Lebanese ring the new year in the streets
- On the eve of 2020, thousands of protesters made their way to squares across Lebanon to ring in the new year.
- Protesters filled Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square, which had been set up with the two stages and a DJ. At the stroke of midnight, civil defense trucks set off their sirens in celebration while fireworks went off as well. Similar activities were held in Tripoli’s Nour Square.
Protesters start the year by blocking ports, key roads
- Protesters blocked roads leading to Beirut and Tripoli’s ports amid accusation of corruption of customs. Protesters in Tripoli erected a tent at the port’s entrance to prevent workers from entering.
- Zahle’s highway had been blocked since Wednesday night; protesters occupied the city’s Ogero building and LibanPost branches.
- A sit-in was held in Beirut outside of Parliament to demand the formation of a government of independents and for an independent judiciary.
New year, same concerns: protesters take to the banks
- Internal Security Forces attacked protesters who had staged a sit-in at Sidon’s Credit Libanais branch, who had been protesting against the bank’s low withdrawal limit. One injured protester was transported to the hospital.
- A similar sit-in was staged at Nabatiyeh’s and Beirut’s Ras el Nabeh Fransabank branches, where protesters were locked in. In Antelias, depositors at First National Bank were threatened with account closures for their sit-in.
- The Federation of Syndicates of Bank Employees in Lebanon released a statement denouncing the protests as “direct attacks against the banking sector” and called for support from security forces.
Interpol puts out an arrest warrant on Carlos Ghosn
- Lebanon received a “Red Notice” arrest warrant from Interpol Thursday for ousted Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. Ghosn, who had been on trial in Japan for embezzlement, escaped to Lebanon on December 30 while on bail. He will face interrogation by State Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat next week.
- The Foreign Ministry released a statement Wednesday affirming that the government did not play a role in Ghosn’s arrival in Lebanon. Lebanon also does not currently have “a judicial cooperation agreement” with Japan.
- Separately, a group of Lebanese lawyers has filed a suit against Ghosn for entering Israel multiple times, violating Lebanon’s Israel boycott law.
State ramps up crackdown on activists
- Activist Rabih El-Amine was called in to appear before the Anti-Cybercrime bureau again on Friday, despite deleting posts criticizing Al Mawared Bank CEO Marwan Kheireddine.
- Feminist activist Nidal Ayoub was asked to appear before the Anti-Cybercrime Bureau next Tuesday following a complaint by journalist Hussein Mortada for “libel and slander, blasphemy, insulting the president, and undermining the prestige of the state.” Ayoub had lodged her own complaint against Mortada for fabricating information about her, but he has not been summoned.
- Lebanese University professor Issam Khalife was issued an arrest warrant based on a lawsuit filed by LU president Fouad Ayoub. Khalife is accused of slander and libel.
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