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Prisoner's family attacks journalist over critical article

(Maharat/IFEX) - 4 June 2012 - The journalist Afif Diab, Al- Akhbar's reporter in the Bekaa was attacked, hit on the face, back and shoulder at Green's Café in Chtoura on Saturday June 2nd 2012 by four men, while the police refused to take any action.

Diab was attacked on the same day his article, entitled “To Ziad Al-Homsy: you are a traitor”, was published in Al-Akhbar newspaper.

Al-Houmsy was arrested in 2009 for being an Israeli agent and was set free last week after three years and two months of imprisonment, after the military court decided to reduce the penalty.

Diab told Maharat that after he started working on the case of Al-Homsy and wrote about his life after he was arrested, the Al-Homsy family showed signs of hatred towards him. Diab added that Al-Homsy sent him a WhatsApp message on the 25th of May from Roumieh prison telling that “I will get revenge from those who have been unjust with me, and this is my right in all laws even the law of the jungle.” In another message, Al-Homsy threatened Diab to keep the previous message away from media and asked him to apologize publicly to solve the matter.

Diab added that on the day that Al-Homsy's sentence was reduced, he met Al-Homsy's wife in Chtoura where Al-Homsy's supporters were gathered and told him “I will make you pay” and a guy with her added “you will pay very soon”. It was only hours when Diab was attacked by relatives of Al-Homsy's wife.

When Diab wanted to file a complaint at Chtoura Police Station, he was shocked that the police refused to open a file and the case was transferred to the General Prosecutor during the weekend vacation.

Diab explained that when he was at the station, the police called the lawyer Khaled Chahimy, who is the brother of Al-Homsy's wife who asked Diab to solve the problem amicably, a request Diab refused. At this point, the chief of the police station started to file a case but he received a phone call so he decided not to take any action.

Maharat Foundation condemns the attack on the journalist Afif Diab because of his media work, and is also shocked that the police did not take action against the attackers. This could excuse further attacks on journalists. Maharat also stresses that journalists should remain away from conflict and not react hastily towards any attitude or event, since their mission is to deliver the news to the public opinion. Finally, Maharat calls on judicial authorities to work seriously on this case and to hold the attackers accountable.

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