Ibrahim al-Amin’s full speech before the STL

Al-Akhbar editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin speaks to Al-Jadeed from his office after walking out of his STL hearing. (Photo: Al-Akhbar)
Published Thursday, May 29, 2014
Editor’s note: The following statement is the full version of a speech prepared by Al-Akhbar‘s editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin to be delivered to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) Thursday during a preliminary session into the charges leveled against him and the newspaper. Amin only read about half the speech to the court. The court’s contempt judge Nicola Lettieri interrupted Amin during his statement, drawing a rebuke from Amin who has called on the judge to publicly apologize.
To the Honorable Judge Nicola Lettieri,
My presence here is not the result of my own free will, but is rather more akin to the execution of an arrest warrant. This is because your court professes, on the one hand, to respect the standards of justice, while neglecting, at the same time, the most basic of procedures that are required for the holding of a fair trial.
I have previously expressed to you my reservations regarding any rulings that might be issued concerning me by your court, and I reiterate, today, that I do not acknowledge the legitimacy of this tribunal. This is an institution that was created by the United Nations Security Council – the body that has never guaranteed the safety of the World.
Slightly over a hundred kilometers from here is a land called Palestine, whose people is the only population in the world that remains deprived of the right to self determination.
All forms of crimes are committed against the Palestinian people and this “Security Council” never acts; international tribunals are never created in order to prosecute Zionist war criminals. How then can any rational and educated person, who respects human rights trust the decisions of the UN Security Council?
This tribunal’s mandate is restricted to a single case of political assassination and was not referred to other existing international tribunals, because this case does not have the required elements to be referred to such international tribunals. However, the Security Council established this tribunal as a political tool.
I hereby remind you that, recently, and after the first steps to establish such tribunal were taken, Israel committed a massacre resulting in the death of 1,300 Lebanese within 30 days in July 2006. Impunity prevails in this case. Neither the Security Council nor any international legal body held Israel accountable.
During the past year alone, horrible massacres and crimes against humanity were committed by car bomb attacks targeting Lebanese citizens just because of their sectarian identity, and no one was held accountable. And I note here that the killers and criminals are backed by some Lebanese, regional and international groups that support this tribunal.
How would you expect us to trust the Security Council and its decisions or its various tribunals?
This tribunal was established in the dark. It was established against the Lebanese constitutional and legal principles. Even its funding is made secretly without the approval of the concerned authorities.
2359881892_a698712Your tribunal was established as part of a political process that started with the formation of international investigative commissions to look into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. We all know that the local, regional, and international powers that stood behind the establishment of the Special Tribunal are the same ones that are inciting for perpetual wars in my country, against my people, and against my country’s heroic resistance in the face of American, European, and Israeli terrorism.
My presence here today does not signify, in the slightest of ways, that I acknowledge you as an institution that seeks to accomplish justice. To the contrary, my forced presence here is due to my legitimate concern that members of my family, or colleagues in the newspaper that I manage, may be subject to abusive measures by your court regarding a case to which they have no relation. Such measures would only be in fulfillment of the desires of the forces of oppression, in my country, in the region, and in the world.
As for me personally, I care little for any of the actions that you have taken, or that you may yet take, for I do not acknowledge you as legitimate, and I view your court’s entire course of action as a flagrant assault against my freedom and the freedom of the press in my country.
I do not find myself, here, to be in need of a lawyer, or of legal aid of any sort, for I have nothing to say regarding the charges filed against me, the very issuing of which by your court represents a lack of respect for all the international laws guaranteeing human rights and the right to free expression.
My decision to re-publish material that was already published in the press reflects, precisely, the essence of my professional and ethical commitment toward my people, which was – and remains – subjected to the greatest process of deception under the name of justice and the law.

Al-Akhbar Coverage of the STL

All the successive officials that took charge of the dossier of Hariri’s assassination have engaged in evidence-fabrication that may result in the death of innocent people, after having caused the imprisonment of others, in addition to becoming a constant alibi for the massive breach of the privacy of my people. Therefore, I unequivocally reject the accusation filed against me and I view it as void, in form and in substance.
On a different front, and since I am today representing Al-Akhbar newspaper, it is my duty to bring to your attention the fact that it is the only Arab newspaper not to have any links to any oppressive regime in the entire world. And I hereby challenge anyone to prove the existence of any such relationship.
Al-Akhbar, which you are attempting to punish, is a forum that stands in the heart of the battle against political, social, and cultural persecution, in Lebanon, and in all corners of the globe.
It was not a coincidence that one of our own, our colleague Assaf Abu Rahhal, would fall martyr to the bullets of the Israeli army of occupation with nobody among those who support this tribunal, in Lebanon and abroad, lifting a finger to provide him with justice by punishing the murderers.
It is also not a coincidence that this newspaper, whom you threaten with closure, is still subject to political, judicial, and financial litigation by those who support this tribunal in Lebanon, the region, and globally. The Lebanese camp that supports you is incessantly prosecuting Al-Akhbar in front of the judiciary and the executive organs in Lebanon, while its economic team works to deprive Al-Akhbar from advertisement revenues.
Al-Akhbar is a newspaper that is banned throughout the Arab World.
  • Saudi Arabia blocks Al-Akhbar’s website.
  • Qatar is financing the attempts to empty the newspaper of its personnel and employees.
  • The Syrian government rejects our criticisms, so they ban the circulation of Al-Akhbar in Syria, while the criminals among the Syrian opposition threaten us with beheading.
  • France’s Ambassador in Beirut gloats over Al-Akhbar’s imminent closure, as his colleague in the United Nations publicly accuses our correspondent of not being a journalist, but “a security agent.” Why? Simply because we demand the freeing of the international freedom fighter Georges Ibrahim Abdallah who is being held hostage by the French administration – against the decisions of justice and the logic of the law.
Al-Akhbar is a newspaper that is viewed as a threat by the American government after we published the “Wikileaks” cables, which revealed the American conspiracies against our peoples, and the US government is currently attempting to prevent us from publishing the documents that divulge its ongoing espionage against hundreds of millions of individuals.
Al-Akhbar is a newspaper that is described by the government of the Israeli enemy, in its letters to the United Nations, as the mouthpiece of terrorism.
Mr. Lettieri,
My personal experience with your Special Tribunal has been extremely bitter. It began with threats launched by the head of the first Investigation Commission, Detlev Mehlis, and then by his successor, Serge Brammertz, to subject me to meaningless interrogations; not to forget the “friend of the court,” Stéphane Bourgon, who oversaw a selective interrogation. And here I stand today, enduring a similar treatment with you as well, after you refused to grant me my most basic right to know the legal basis of your accusation, and the penalties that could be imposed against the institution that I represent. This entire experience increases my fears regarding the realization of justice.
Based on the above, I have decided to exercise my right to remain silent during the entire proceedings, and I refuse to appoint a lawyer to defend me or the “Akhbar Beirut Company.” I also strongly reject being assigned a lawyer by the tribunal.
Glory to freedom.
Glory to the martyrs of the resistance and to its heroic freedom fighters.
Ibrahim Al-Amin

Al-Akhbar chief: The STL refused to clarify the charges against us

Ibrahim al-Amin (right) gives a press conference regarding his decision to boycott the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on May 29, 2014. (Photo: Al-Akhbar)
Published Thursday, May 29, 2014
Updated 8:19 pm: Al-Akhbar‘s editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Amin criticized the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) contempt judge for refusing to clarify the charges brought against him and the newspaper at a press conference Thursday following Amin’s first hearing before the international court.
“We realized that there was a lot of ambiguity regarding the charges against me and in the trial procedures,” Amin said. “We demanded clarifications but we didn’t get any.”
“We were surprised that the judge wanted me to say that I understood the charges against me even though I said they were ambiguous. He insisted that I answer if I’m guilty or not, even though I don’t even understand the charges,” Amin added.
He was referring to charges filed by STL prosecutors related toAl-Akhbar‘s decision in January 2013 to publish the names of 32 prosecution witnesses.
The Hague-based court was ostensibly set up to investigate the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri. But its critics accuse it of being a mere tool for the West and Israel to push their mandates in Lebanon.
The STL last month announced it had charged Amin, deputy director of Al-Jadeed TV Kharma Khayat, and their news organizations with obstruction of justice and contempt.
Prosecutors accuse the journalists of “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice” by publishing secret information about STL witnesses.
Amin attended his preliminary hearing Thursday via video-link during which he told the court that he does not recognize its legitimacy and therefore would not recognize any charges it files against him or his paper.
During the hearing, STL contempt judge Nicola Lettieri asked Amin if he understood the charges against him. He responded by saying that he did not understand them and has asked for clarification, but that the STL has refused to provide them with further detail.
Lettieri told Amin that he will regard his statement as a “not guilty” plea. Amin said he will not attend any further hearings and that he refuses that the court appoint a counsel to defend him or his paper in the “illegitimate” trial.
“The penalty is unknown. What is the penalty if Amin gets convicted?”, Nizar Saghieh, Al-Akhbar‘s legal adviser asked during Thursday’s press conference.
“This is the first time in an international tribunal that a company is put on trial,” Saghieh, referring to Al-Akhbar said. “What will happen to the newspaper?”
Amin also criticized the judge for cutting him off during his statement before the court when he began talking about the recent wave of car bombs targeting Shia neighborhood in Lebanon.
The judge told him that those details were not relevant to the case.
“How is talking about assassinations, explosions and terrorist attacks in Lebanon irrelevant to the STL? The STL allegedly aims to restore peace and punish the ones threatening stability, but the judge told Amin that bringing up these attacks or the lack of security is not of concern to the court,” Saghieh added.
Amin and Khayat could face up to seven years in jail and a 100,000 euro fine if convicted. But it remained unclear what would happen to their media organizations should the STL find them guilty as this case is without precedent.
(Al-Akhbar)
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