Lebanese man faces jail for criticising President Michel Suleiman on Twitter
Jean Assy is expected to appeal his two-month jail sentence
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Thursday 13 February 2014
A Lebanese man has been sentenced to two months in prison for insulting President Michel Sleiman on Twitter, according to reports.
The case is believed to be the first time a Lebanese citizen has been sentenced to jail for expressing views on the social network, as fines are typically dealt in similar cases.
Jean Assay, a 26-year-old web developer, has almost 6,000 Twitter followers. On Wednesday, he tweeted: "Mr. president, You want to jail me, fine, but then again, did you read twitter today? Do you want to jail thousands of Lebanese as well?"
He has not yet been arrested and has said he will appeal his sentence.
Just to clarify some stuff, i wasn't arrested today, Im free for now and going to appeal the court's verdict. The battle isn't over.— Jean (@jeanassy) February 12, 2014
Assy allegedly told news agency Agence France-Presse he had posted insults on Twitter calling the President “castrated, politically castrated”, and saying “the minister of interior is stupid, and things like this”, which lead to his arrest last year.
According to AFP, a judicial source said: "Jean Assy was sentenced to two months in jail for defaming and insulting the president via Twitter. The court decision can be appealed within 10 days."
Human Rights Watch criticised the ruling and called for a revision of the law. “We hope for a revision of this law that criminalizes public expression,” Nadim Houry, deputy middle east director at HRW said. “The issue here is no one should go to jail for defaming or insulting a public figure, this what international law requires.”
Speaking to The Daily Star in Lebanon, Assy said he made the comments in a "fit of anger". “Maybe fine me" he added, "but to jail me – they want to destroy my life.”
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