Lebanese TV reporter of Armenian descent Neshan Der Haroutiounian will stand trial in Lebanon for ‘insulting’ Turkey, The Arab Weekly reported.
“Recent developments have shown that even Lebanon, where Turkey has no military presence or shared borders, is not immune to Ankara’s interference,” the publication noted.
Lebanese political sources said that Turkish prosecutors’ claims against Der Haroutiounian for “insulting” the Turkish president are part of ongoing confrontations between Lebanese Armenians and Turkey, which is accused of committing the Armenian Genocide from 1914 to 1923.
According to Lebanese news agency NNA, which refers to the public prosecutor’s office, Der Haroutiounian will appear in court in Beirut.
The trial is scheduled for October 8.
Der Haroutiounian has been charged in connection with his statement during the “Anna Heek” (This is how I am) program that aired on the Al Jadeed satellite channel.
He has hosted former Environment Minister Wiam Wahhab.
Wahhab said in the interview that the Turkish president was “sly” before the campaign against Der Haroutiounian began.
In turn, a Lebanese national intervened in the program and attacked Der Haroutiounian, saying “Neshan, the refugee, showed his racism,” referring to the journalists’ Armenian origins.
Der Haroutiounian responded to the provocation: “A son of a million malicious people … Erdogan, the regime, the Ottomans, and the Turks.”
“If you consider me a refugee, then I am more Lebanese than you, and I am proud of my country, Lebanon, more than you are,” he added.
Later, the Turkish embassy intervened in the situation by organizing protests outside the Al Jadeed TV channel building.
Protesters with Turkish flags chanted slogans in support of the Ottoman Empire and Erdogan, demanding Der Haroutiounian apologize for “insulting” the Turkish president.
Observers say that Turkey has been able to take advantage of Lebanon’s political vacuum caused by the growing social and economic crisis.
According to them, Ankara managed to penetrate the country and form a lobby to silence critics of Ottoman history and Erdogan’s expansionist policies in the region, which affects Lebanon, Syria, and the rest of the Mediterranean.
Observers warned of the risks posed by Der Haroutiounian’s trial, not only for Lebanon but for the entire region. They noted that Turkey seeks to create a media, political, and legal lobby to prevent any criticism of its old or new colonial policies.