Saad al-Hariri Caught On Tape with “False Witness” Muhammad Zuhair al-Siddiq


Posted by Qifa Nabki

Well this is embarrassing. Lebanese TV station al-Jadeed has a major scoop tonight: a leaked recording of a meeting between Saad al-Hariri, Information Branch chief Colonel Wissam al-Hassan, STL deputy chief investigator Gerhard Lehmann, and Muhammad Zuhair al-Siddiq. You can watch the entire report below.

It’s not entirely clear just how damaging this could be for Hariri. On the one hand, judging from a comment made by Siddiq near the beginning, this conversation must have taken place shortly after the attempted assassination of May Chidiac on September 20th, 2005. That was still very early in the investigation, well before the IIIC determined that Siddiq was unreliable (note the date of the report shown in the video: August 2006). For an excellent background document on the whole false witness scandal, see here.

Furthermore, the al-Jadeed audio clip does not portray Hariri or al-Hassan feeding Siddiq any information. Rather, it’s the other way around, and the German investigator raises doubts about the veracity of the witness’s testimony. If anything, what the clip seems to show is:

  1. Hariri and his people wanted Siddiq to provide “clear evidence” of Syrian involvement.
  2. They were convinced by what he said, and were trying to convince Lehmann that his testimony was valuable.
  3. Al-Hassan looks even more eager than Hariri to get the information out of Siddiq.

Now, despite all of this, I do believe that the clip could be seriously damaging — depending on how Hariri handles it. The opposition is going to claim that Hariri lied about not having anything to do with the false witnesses (even though this audio actually seems to confirm that he was the recipient of Siddiq’s testimony, not the originator of it.) The mere fact that he was in contact with Siddiq is enough to further poison the well of public trust in the STL.

More on this tomorrow (al-Jadeed has promised us another tape!)

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

%d bloggers like this: