Lebanese man faces jail for criticising President Michel Suleiman on Twitter

Jean Assy is expected to appeal his two-month jail sentence

Heather Saul
Thursday 13 February 2014 17:36
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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.

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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