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Inserted testimony from Daniel Nassif:
Mr. Pierre Attallah, 34, a journalist with the Lebanese newspaper “Al-Nahar," was arrested on December 23, 1996, reportedly for “contacting Israeli agents” in Lebanon, a charge frequently used by the Lebanese authorities against people suspected of political opposition. The charges related to an interview he conducted 1993 with Etienne Saqr, the former head of the Guardians of the Cedars, an opposition political party, in the Israeli-occupied “security zone” in southern Lebanon. Atallah was released on bail on January 6, 1997.
In early June, Lebanon's Attorney General formally indicted Mr. Attallah for "contacting Israeli” agents. As he was returning home from work on the evening of the indictment, Mr. Attallah encountered a group of about 15 assailants in his neighborhood. The assailants, whom witnesses believed were plainclothes Syrian intelligence cadres because of their distinctive Arabic accent, beat him severely. Mr. Attallah collapsed on the ground and was rescued by neighbors and family members who rushed him to a hospital. After spending several days in the hospital recovering from his injuries, Mr. Attallah escaped Lebanon secretly and arrived in France where he asked for political asylum.
The accompanying photos, displaying his injuries, were taken of Mr. Attallah after his arrival in France. Also attached is an Amnesty International "Urgent Action Appeal” dated May 16, 1997, which gives earlier details of Mr. Attallah’s case.
(Insert photos and text.)
16 May 1997 Further information on UA 300/96 issued 23 December 1996 and re-issued 30 December, 31 December, 7 January 1997) Fear of Torture Legal Concem and new concern: Fear of unfair trial LEBANON Pherre Attallab, aged 34
On 14 May 1997, a military magistrate demanded between three and 15 years' imprisonment with hard labor for journalist Pierrc Anallah. No date has been set for the trial but it is thought to be imminent. Pierre Attallah was arrested on 23 December 1996 and was released on bail on 6 January 1997. Amnesty Internationa: is concemed that fierte tailan is reportedly tcing charged witi cuntacting Isu zeli agenis ift Lebanon, (a charge frequently used by the Lebanese authorities against people suspected of political opposition). This relates to a published interview he conducted with Etienne Saqr, former head of the Guardians of the Codur, in 1993, in his professional capacity as a journalist (see previous update). The indictment reportodly states that Pierre Artallah "published Sagr's ideas (such as) his opposition to the Lebanese government to the Syrian presence in Lebanon and to Hizbullah". If Pierre Anallah is convicted on this charge Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience. The organization is also concerned that Piente Atuallah will be tried before a military court which, by virtue of its procedures and lack of adequate judicial supervision as recently confirmed by the UN Human Rights Committee, does not guarantee that defendants receive fair trials. Magistrate Riyad Talee' also reportedly charged Pierre Anallah with "distributing leaflets that incite strife, disturb Lebanon's relations with a friendly country (reference to Syria) and slander the wmy* Pierre Anallah denied this charge. FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/cxpress/ airmail leners: calling for the charges against Pierre antallah that relate fo his professional work as a journalist be dropped; expressing concern that Pierrc Anallah is being tried before a military court without adequate safeguards for fair trial; • requesting assurances that Pierre Anallah receive a fair and prompe tri if he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence.
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COUNCIL OF LEBANESE AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS
2017 Nationale Building
shington, DC 20003
Tek (202) 605 40M
July 16, 1997
The Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman, Chairman
Dear Chairman Gilman:
During my testimony at the Lebanon Hearing on June 25, 1997, I submitted to be included in the record three pictures of An-Nahar reporter Pierre Atallah showing how he was severely beaten by unknown individuals working for the Syrian-controlled authorities in Beirut. My remarks at the Hearing relied on initial sketchy reports which later, following news conferences held on 3 July simultaneously in Beirut and Paris, received extra bolstering details. The news conference in Beirut was held by An-Nahar editor and Mr. Atallah's boss, Mr. Gibran Tueini, and Atallab's attorney, Ms. Butros Harb. Representatives of Western embassies, including that of the United States, were present at the news conference. In Paris Mr. Atallah, currently in exile in France, personally testified in the news conference which was held at the headquarters of the French organization “Reporters Without Frontiers."
what I said at the Hearing constituted groundbreaking news at the time, I wish here, in light of subsequent revelations, to supply additional information to what I said. The physical attack against Mr. Atallah's person occurred in the vicinity of his residence not far from the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Syrian-occupied Beirut. As Mr. Atallah was driving back home from a meeting with his lawyer, Mr. Harb, a car suddenly pulled up and blocked his way. Three men believed to be working for the Syrian-affiliated intelligence apparatus of the Beirut authorities descended from the car and began to hit Mr.
clubs and butts of handguns. They did not stop until he lay Nat on the ground bleeding profusely.
Mr. Alallah's examining physician in Paris prescribed a sixweck period of rest and recuperation for the injured victim of this barbaric atrocity against a fellow human being whose only crime was the exercise of his right to free speech.
I kindly request, Mr. Chairman, that this letter be appended to my testimony at the Hearing and included in the record for posterity.