Prominent Lebanese journalist Dima Sadek sentenced to one year in prison following Gebran Bassil's libel lawsuit
Prominent Lebanese journalist Dima Sadek has been sentenced to one year in prison as a result of a lawsuit filed against her by the Free Patriotic Movement President Gebran Bassil, reported L’Orient Le Jour on Tuesday.
Bassil accused the journalist of "defamation and libel" over three years ago after she denounced him for "incitement" and "racism".
The 43-year-old journalist revealed the outcome of the verdict in a video posted on Twitter, explaining that she was being imprisoned on grounds of "slander, defamation and promoting sectarianism" following remarks she made in February 2020 concerning two young men who were attacked in the southern northern city of Tripoli by men loyal to the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM).
One man, Zakaria al-Masry, was beaten up and forced to say "Aoun is your God and the God of Tripoli", in reference to ex-Lebanese president and former head of the FPM Michel Aoun.
Following the incident, which took place on 6 and 7 February 2020, Sadek described the actions as "racist and Nazi-like".
جبران باسيل انتزع قرار قضائي بسجني سنة دون ايقاف التنفيذ من محكمة الجزاء من خلال القاضية روزين حجيلي في سابقة استثنائية. نعم، في لبنان صارو الصحافيين بيبسجنو بدعاوى القدح والذم. طبعا سأستأنف و النضال مكفي. pic.twitter.com/93tXpabQke— Dima ديما صادق (@DimaSadek) July 11, 2023
Sadek was also ordered by Judge Rosine Hojeili to pay a fine of 110 million Lebanese pounds ($7,316).
The journalist is additionally expected to file an appeal against the ruling through her attorney Diala Shehadeh, said the Lebanese Megaphone news website.
She further explained that the judiciary can incarcerate her at any time if she does not appeal.
In the video, Sadek said that "the thugs" who were accused of beating the young men weren’t "tried, arrested and no one said anything to them".
"But I, who condemned [all of this], which was spread all over social media, was sentenced yesterday to prison."
Sadek went on to say that this sets a "very dangerous precedent" on freedom of expression and media in Lebanon.
She also alluded to the irony of being imprisoned for calling Gebran Bassil "racist", when the politician himself has allegedly made similar claims about himself.
Sadek was previously subject to a lawsuit filed by scandal-hit Central Banker governor Riad Salameh – also in 2020 – after he sued her for "tarnishing the reputation of the banks and the prestige of the economy".
The famed journalist, who has worked as an anchor for the LBCI broadcaster, is known for her support of anti-government and austerity protests that swept Lebanon in October 2019.
In the same year, Sadek was faced with a major case of harassment when images of her in a compromising position were sent to her mother, causing her to be hospitalised.
The Lebanese journalist was also harassed by supporters of the Shia militant group Hezbollah as she covered the same demonstrations.