BEIRUT: Mount Lebanon investigating magistrate Judge Nicolas Mansour adjourned on Thursday TV host Marcel Ghanem's hearing session to review preliminary defense arguments submitted by Ghanem's lawyer MP Butros Harb. The hearing session was scheduled for February 2.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Harb vowed that “Lebanon would remain a free country," while expressing hope in “an independent judiciary so that all can express themselves without fear of prosecution.”
Ghanem, whose supporters gathered outside the Baabda Justice Palace as the hearing got underway, was accompanied by Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh, MP Ghazi El Aridi, and LBCI owner Pierre Daher. “I watched the episode in question and saw no justification for prosecuting Ghanem,” Aridi said.
The Kalam Ennas host refused to comment on the case, simply thanking his supporters for “standing with him in solidarity”.
Ghanem, whose popular political talk show has been airing on LBCI for over two decades, has been embroiled in legal controversy in the wake of his Kalam El Nass episode that aired on November 16. The episode had featured a Saudi journalist, who launched a verbal attack against President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, and Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, accusing them of aiding and abetting terrorism due to their ties to Hezbollah.
He was then summoned to court for questioning over the episode and later charged with obstruction of justice. On December 18, Mansour subpoenaed Ghanem after he failed to attend a court hearing. The subpoena was later dropped after Ghanem announced he would attend Thursday's court hearing.
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