Rights groups urge Lebanon to release US journalist

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called for Lebanon to release American freelance journalist, Nada Homsi. 

According to the groups’ statement, Lebanese General Security officers conducted a raid of Homsi's apartment without a judicial order to do so. Upon finding a small amount of cannabis, the public prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for Homsi and her partner at the officers' request, and her electronics and other documents were taken, according to Homsi’s lawyer, Diala Chehade.

"General Security should also promptly, thoroughly, independently, transparently, and effectively investigate the due process violations she faced since her arrest, and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible," the statement said.

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Homsi was arrested on Nov. 16, 2021, and the groups said her "detention is now arbitrary" after the public prosecutor ordered the journalist’s release on Nov. 25.

After the prosecutor's order, Aya Majzoub, who is a Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch, called the refusal to release Homsi “a blatant abuse of power and a very worrying indication of the security agency’s lack of respect for the rule of law.”

Following her arrest, Homsi was not allowed to contact a lawyer or her family for six days and was made to sign an interrogation report that she was unable to read, the advocacy groups also reported. 

Diala Haidar, who is a Lebanon campaigner at Amnesty International, added that General Security “must refrain from detaining any individuals in relation to their immigration status" and "hold to account those suspected to be responsible within its structure for violating Homsi’s due process rights."

Prior to her detainment, Homsi had most recently worked with the U.S.-based outlet National Public Radio (NPR). She has also worked with Arab and international media organizations.