An American freelance journalist was arrested by Lebanese security forces for allegedly live-streaming Beirut protest for the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. The journalist was later identified as Nicholas Frakes, who was covering protests for a number of media outlets. Both Frakes and Hareetz have denied any affiliation.
Arrest and charges
Based in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Frakes was arrested on Monday for allegedly live-streaming the Beirut protests on the Israeli newspaper's Facebook page.
According to the official statement, "following social media news about a person who had been live-streaming the events in Downtown Beirut for the Israeli Haaretz daily, a State Security patrol managed to track and locate the whereabouts, and suspected an individual who had filmed the same footage that appeared on the enemy's newspapers' page."
The video feed in question, live-streamed on January 19, was taken from the Reuters news agency, by Hareetz. The Israeli newspaper has denied any connection with the journalist and said that it "did not receive that video directly from anyone other than Reuters". According to reports, the video was taken from Reuters Connect, a platform accessible by news publications across the world used to source videos, photos, and texts for news stories.
Later, The New Arab identified the journalist as Nicholas Frakes, who did not work for Reuters, but for The New Arab.
What's next for Nicholas Frakes?
Frakes will be brought before a military court, where it is unlikely that he will be provided with legal representation. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), police officers have harassed, attacked, or detained journalists covering protests in Beirut, since January 14.
"Journalists in Lebanon should be able to cover protests without the fear that they will be detained or attacked by a police officer," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. "Lebanese authorities should investigate allegations that police beat journalists, and should take steps to ensure that such actions do not happen again", he added.
Protests first rocked the Lebanese capital on October 17 last year, sparked by regressive tax imposition on gasoline, tobacco and various digital tools. The protests soon expanded throughout the country, with people taking to streets against the country's sectarian divisions, corruption, currency crisis, unemployment and government's inability to provide basic public services, such as electricity, water and sanitation.