The General Security authorities at Rafic Hariri International Airport – Beirut have deported Reuters correspondent, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, after questioning him on arrival at Beirut airport, Samir Kassir Foundation’s SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom to announced on its Twitter account.
In details, Reuters announced, last Friday, that the Lebanese General Security deported its chief correspondent in Jordan and Syria, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, to Jordan on August 3, after questioning him upon his arrival at Beirut airport on a press mission. They also asked him to surrender his company laptop computer and mobile phone. But he refused.
“Reuters” agency said in a statement that “Al-Khalidi, a Jordanian national, flew to Beirut on August 2, but was stopped by official at passport control officials who took him aside for questioning and asked him to hand over the agency’s laptop and mobile phone, without the authorities mentioning any reason for this request.
“When Al-Khalidi refused to hand over his laptop and mobile phone, he was taken to a deportation center before being placed the next day on a plane to Jordan,” the statement added.
“We have protested to Lebanese government officials about the treatment of Reuters journalist Suleiman al-Khalidi and are seeking further information from these authorities, who have provided no explanation for their action.”
The statement said that “Al-Khalidi’s reports are independent and impartial in line with the principles of trust.”
Reuters condemns any limitations imposed on journalists seeking to report the news in the public interest, and calls on the Lebanese authorities to rescind the decision.”
The General Directorate of General Security in Lebanon responded to what happened, and pointed out that “Lebanese law ensures a free media environment. The ban on his entry to Lebanon is a purely sovereign decision of the Lebanese state, and has no relation to his work or profession,” the letter said.
The letter described the decision as a denial of entry rather than a deportation because officials made no entry stamp on Khalidi’s passport.
It is noteworthy that Al-Khalidi won the Samir Kassir Award in the category of opinion article in the year 2012, and he has been working for “Reuters” for 25 years, covering Jordan and the Syrian conflict, in addition to Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and the Gulf.