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Maharat Foundation calls for release of three young men detained over Facebook comments

(Maharat Foundation/IFEX) - On 24 June 2010, Lebanese General Security summoned three men - all of whom are under the age of 20 - for interrogation. The young men were detained at the request of the prosecutor general's office for comments posted on the social media website Facebook and addressed to the president of the Lebanese republic.

The investigations have extended to dozens of other young men who joined the Facebook group and stem from comments posted by the three men about allegations of electoral interference by the Lebanese president in certain regions in Mount Lebanon, which emerged during the municipal elections of May 2010.

One of the detained men's father, who spoke to OTV news on 26 June, said that his son, Tony El Murr, was still being detained by security services, but that his comments were in no way offensive to the president and merely expressed his opinion.

This is not the first time a Lebanese citizen has been detained for expressing an opinion. In 2008, students from L'Université Saint-Joseph (USJ) in Zahle were detained for allegedly slandering one of their colleagues on Facebook.

Maharat Foundation calls for the immediate release of the detainees in the name of freedom of expression. The organisation stressed the need for the adoption of laws that will better protect the rights of electronic media users in Lebanon, similar to those laws that govern the print media.

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