Lebanese judge resigns after media ban on US envoy (Ld)

A Lebanese judge resigned a day after issuing an international media ban on US Ambassador Dorothy Shea over critical comments she made of the Hezbollah Shia group.

Sunday’s decision taken by Mohamed Mazeh, a judge of the southern city of Tyre, came after the US Ambassador blamed the Shia group for worsening the economic situation in the country.

“By its actions and threats, Hezbollah destabilizes the country and jeopardizes the country’s economic recovery,” Shea said during an interview with Al-Hadath on Saturday.

She expressed “very serious reservations” over the independence of the government and that it is “not beholden to Hezbollah”.

The comments by the diplomat “threaten the social peace” and “incite the sectarian conflict,” the Judge Mazeh ruled on Sunday.

Despite the ruling, the Ambassador was interviewed twice by Lebanese media.

During an interview with the LBCI TV channel on Sunday, she considered the decision to be “unhelpful and unnecessary”.

An “appropriate action is being taken (by the Lebanese government) to reverse this inappropriate ruling,” she added.

The Judge on Sunday issued a statement, published by local media, saying that he was not notified that he was subject to any administrative proceedings.

“In the event that this happens to be true, and before referring me to the Inspection Authority because of a ruling I made with a clear conscience and in full conviction… I present my request to end my service in the Judiciary, which I will officially submit on Tuesday, June 30, 2020,” he said in a statement.

Although Lebanese authorities did not appreciate the Ambassador’s comments, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad rejected the Judge’s ruling.

“No one has the right to prevent media from giving the news and restrict the liberty of the media,” the Minister tweeted on Saturday.

The US and the UK among other countries consider Hezbollah as a terror group and have even mulled imposing sanctions on the organization.

Prime Minister Hasan Diab formed a government last December backed by the Hezbollah and its allies, two months after Saad Hariri resigned following massive anti-government protests.

Lebanon has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund over a program to help it out of its worst economic crises since the end of the civil war (1975-1990).