Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri launched a scathing attack against LBCI Thursday, accusing it of ties with Syria, after the channel reported that he had received $4 billion from Qatar and Saudi Arabia to end his reputed financial troubles.
Hariri’s media office denied LBCI’s report, saying “this report is not accurate at all, nor was another report by the same channel which said that the [former] prime minister is on the brink of bankruptcy.”
LBCI reported Wednesday that Hariri received “a gift” of $4 billion on Eid al-Fitr from both Qatar and Saudi Arabia to resolve his financial crisis. It added that some of the money would go to his Saudi Arabian construction company, Oger, and Future Television.
LBCI also reported that the money was secured after Hariri made several trips to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
LBCI chairman Pierre Daher stood by the channel’s report.
“I say again, what we aired on LBCI regarding the money Hariri received from Saudi Arabia is true and it was transferred right before Eid al-Fitr,” he told The Daily Star
In its statement, Hariri’s press office said that the channel’s insistence on broadcasting false reports against Hariri “coincided with news that the head of LBCI Pierre Daher has held several meetings with the head of the Syrian Intelligence Ali Mamlouk.”
Earlier this month, Mamlouk was charged – along with former Information Minister Michel Samaha – of involvement in a terror plot aimed at destabilizing the country.
“We have known for a while that Daher has decided to launch campaigns of incitement and defamation against Hariri and has put himself in the service of the butcher [Syrian President] Bashar Assad,” the statement said.
“Faced with Daher’s unprecedented abandonment of professional journalism and spreading of rumors and lies without proof ... we found that it is our duty to deny such fabricated news and show the people the truth about them,” it added.
In response to allegations that he had met with Mamlouk, Daher told The Daily Star that it was part of his job to meet with security officials and intelligence personnel from various countries, and called the comments from Hariri’s office “unprofessional.”
“I meet officials and politicians as a journalist and this is part of work,” Daher said.
“I might have met with Ali Mamlouk, but it is no one’s business who I meet with for my work,” he added.
Daher said that without meetings with security officials in the region, “it would have been impossible to locate the 11 Lebanese pilgrims ... After all, we [LBCI] found out that Abu Ibrahim is one of the kidnappers [of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims in Syria].” (daily star)