Journalist faces prison for criticising slowness of courts
(RSF/IFEX) - On 14 May 2002, RSF expressed concern about the prosecution of journalist Saada Allao of the Lebanese daily "As Safir". Allao is being prosecuted for writing articles criticising the country's legal system. RSF demanded that the legal action against her be dropped.
"Why is this journalist facing three years in prison when she simply did her job by pointing out how the legal system was not working?" asked RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Lebanese Justice Minister Samir El-Jisr.
Allao appeared before the Press Court on 8 April, accused of "disrespect towards the courts and making insinuations about a case that is being tried," following a complaint by the chief state prosecutor.
In a series of articles published in November 2001, Allao investigated the disappearance of a girl in Beirut during the 1990s, shortly after her family had put her in a convent. In one of her articles, published on 14 November, the girl's mother said that no action had been taken since she filed a complaint several years earlier about her daughter's disappearance. The mother added that court officials had told her the case documents had been lost.
The Future TV television station, which carried a report on the case in July in which the girl's mother was quoted, is not facing prosecution. Allao, who faces three years in prison or a 20 million Lebanese pound (approx. US$13,200; 13,500 euros) fine, is expected to appear in court again on 20 May.