Lebanon deports Reuters correspondent after questioning

Lebanon deports Reuters correspondent after questioning
Suleiman Al-Khalidi was transferred from Beirut airport to a deportation centre before being sent back to Jordan the next day.
2 min read
03 September, 2021
Authorities gave no reason for stopping Reuters journalist Suleiman Al-Khalidi at Beirut airport [Getty]

Lebanon deported a Reuters correspondent after questioning him on arrival at Beirut airport at the start of a reporting assignment last month, detaining him overnight before putting him on a flight to Jordan.

Suleiman Al-Khalidi, a Jordanian national, flew to Beirut on 2 August but was stopped by officials at passport control who took him aside for questioning and asked him to surrender his company laptop computer and mobile phone, Al-Khalidi said.

Authorities gave no reason for the demand. After Al-Khalidi declined to hand over his equipment, he was transferred to a deportation centre before being sent back to Jordan the next day.

Reuters wrote to Lebanese authorities asking for the decision to be reversed.

"We have protested to Lebanese government officials about the treatment of Reuters journalist Suleiman Al-Khalidi and are seeking further information from these authorities, who have provided no explanation for their action," a Reuters spokesperson said.

"Suleiman’s reporting has been independent and impartial, in keeping with the Trust Principles. Reuters condemns any limitations imposed on journalists seeking to report the news in the public interest.”

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In its response, Lebanon's General Directorate of General Security said that Lebanese law ensured a free media environment. It did not say whether Al-Khalidi's expulsion would be rescinded.

"The ban on his entry to Lebanon is a purely sovereign decision of the Lebanese state, and has no relation to his work or profession," the letter said. The letter described the decision as a denial of entry rather than a deportation because officials made no entry stamp on Al-Khalidi’s passport.

Al-Khalidi, Reuters chief correspondent for Jordan and Syria, has worked for the international news agency for 25 years, covering Jordan and the Syrian conflict, as well as reporting from Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and the Gulf.