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Lebanese actor jailed for saying he would 'take up arms' against Hezbollah

Mubarak was released after a medical examination [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 July, 2019

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Patrick Mubarak was released after being examined by a forensic doctor who confirmed the actor seemed to be suffering from an unspecific mental illness, state news agency NNA reported.
Lebanese actor Patrick Mubarak was released on Thursday, authorities said, after criticism of President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah led to his arrest.

Mubarak had said he would willingly "take up arms" against the two influential figures, in a recording that leaked on social media.

He was released after being examined by a forensic doctor who confirmed the actor seemed to be suffering from an unspecific mental illness, state news agency NNA reported.

A statement by the Criminal Investigation Department (CIA) confirmed the arrest earlier saying he was arrested for the crime of "defamation of religious symbols and the attacks on President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah".

Mubarak's lawyer said financial difficulties had led to a deterioration in his mental health, noting he was evicted from his home earlier this month for failing to pay rent.

Lebanese law protects public officials, the army, the flag, and even the national anthem and stipulates that those found guilty of libel and defamation could face up to two years in prison.

Earlier this year, Ziad Itani, a popular Lebanese writer and actor, was summoned for questioning over tweets made on social media, in a move that was condemned by human rights organisations.

Itani was previously detained and tortured in 2017 in an unofficial detention site, where he was forced to sign a confession stating he had collaborated with Israel.

The actor was released in March 2018 after it was revealed that the former head of the Anti-Cybercrime Bureau Suzanne Hajj Hobeiche had fabricated the case against him over a Twitter row. Hobeiche was subsequently arrested.

"Despite being a victim of abuse, Itani has been treated like a criminal. He was interrogated by the agency previously headed by the person who framed him," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Itani was summoned by the Lebanese Internal Security Force Cybercrimes Bureau after a complaint made by Ziad Hobeiche, the husband of Suzanne Hajj Hobeiche.

Itani has shot to prominence in recent years because of a series of comedy plays on Beirut and the transformations it has undergone in recent decades.

Before becoming an actor, Itani worked as a reporter with Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen television channel and with various regional newspapers.

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