Security agencies maintain access to telecom data

by Yehia El Amine- YehiaAmine

27 April 2016 | 18:36

Source: by Annahar

Prime Minister Tamam Salam (C) chairs a cabinet meeting on April 27, 2016, at the Grand Serail in Beirut. (Dalati & Nohra Photo)

BEIRUT: Lebanon's security and military agencies will maintain access to communication data for another year after securing Wednesday the Cabinet's approval on a request to extend the deadline to May 1, 2017.

"The complete telecom data will be shared with security agencies and the military," Information Minister Ramzi Jreij told reporters following the cabinet's session.

Prior to the Cabinet session, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, both members of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), told reporters that the State Security apparatus should also have access to the data.

The State Security apparatus has been at the center of a political battle pitting ministers loyal to the FPM and the Kataeb party against Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a member of Speaker Nabi Berri's Amal Movement.

Christian parties have accused Khalil of deliberately cutting funding to State Security in an attempt to sideline the apparatus because of a dispute between the agency's director general, a Greek Catholic and his deputy, a Shiite.

Khalil argues that he has refrained from allocating funds to State Security because the request for funds requires the co-signature of the apparatus' director general and his deputy. Brigadier General Mohammad Tufayli, deputy head of State Security, has abstained from signing requests for funds because of the dispute with the agency's Director General Major General George Karaa.

The cabinet shelved discussions on the disputed leadership of State Security after Prime Minister Tamam vowed during the previous Cabinet session to come up with a solution to the issue.

On a separate note, the cabinet gave its preliminary approval to compensate poultry farmers for their losses after the recent extermination of almost 75,000 birds in the Bekaa Valley town of Nabi sheet over concerns concerning the proliferation of avian influenza, known as bird flu.

During its four-hour long session, the cabinet also approved the formation of a ministerial committee chaired by Salam to assess the standard requirements pertaining to waste incinerators.


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