Al-Jadeed, al-Khayat Contempt Case Starts at STL
The contempt case against al-Jadeed TV network and journalist Karma al-Khayat, accused of obstructing justice, kicked off on Thursday at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.
Al-Khayat and al-Jadeed S.A.L. are charged with two counts of contempt and obstruction of justice under rule 60 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
The case against them comes over broadcasts aired on the TV network in 2012, which revealed information about alleged confidential witnesses at the court.
According to the STL, al-Jadeed and al-Khayat are charged with “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by broadcasting and/or publishing information on purported confidential witnesses” and “knowingly and willfully interfering with the administration of justice by failing to remove from al-Jadeed TV’s website and al-Jadeed TV’s YouTube channel information on purported confidential witnesses.”
Kenneth Scott, who is prosecuting al-Jadeed and al-Khayat, told the STL that this case is linked to a conduct that puts certain people, their families and their interests at risk.
Scott stressed in his opening statement before Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri that he believes in freedom of expression, but the information which puts people in danger should be taken seriously.
“The witnesses are now exposed" because of al-Jadeed's broadcasts, he said.
The witnesses' faces were hidden and names were not mentioned, but "nobody was fooled," Scott told the judge.
He said witnesses' voices were not masked and information such as initials, occupations, the businesses where they worked and even their vehicles' license plates were mentioned or appeared in camera shots.
But defense counsel for al-Khayat and al-Jadeed, Karim Khan, praised the TV network in the Defense's opening statement.
Al-Khayat later made her statement to Lettieri, saying: “It is our duty as journalists to find the truth that destroyed our country.”
“The court was established for us and from our money,” she said.
“We are facing accusations because we dared to expose the mistakes of the prosecution,” the journalist added.
She accused the court of not bringing into trial or holding accountable other personalities who had taken bribes or had leaked confidential STL documents.
“We believe in the verdict of the public opinion ... including our viewers” she said.
Journalist Ibrahim al-Amin and al-Akhbar daily are facing similar charges for publishing an article over the alleged witnesses in 2013.
The STL is trying five Hizbullah members who have been charged with plotting ex-PM Rafik Hariri's Feb. 14, 2005 assassination in a massive explosion at the Beirut seafront.
They have not been arrested. Their trial in absentia began in January 2014.
Hizbullah denies involvement in the murder and the group's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has denounced the court as a conspiracy by his archenemies — the U.S. and Israel.