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American journalist Nicholas Frakes 'glad' to be released from Lebanese military detention

Angry protests have taken place on the streets of Beirut [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 January, 2020

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Nicholas Frakes was arrested by Lebanese police over the weekend and accused with leaking a video of the protests to an Israeli-based publication - which is untrue.
American journalist Nicholas Frakes has been released from a military prison in Lebanon, after he was accused of providing a livestream of protests in the capital to an Israeli-based news organisation.

Initially taking to Twitter to share the news, Frakes wrote: "I've been released from custody. It’s good to be back. Did I miss anything?"

The New Arab broke Frakes' story on Monday, a reporter who had covered the recent protests in the country for various news oulets.

He was accused of "leaking" news to Haaretz - a claim both he and the publication swiftly denied.

"No journalist was reporting for the newspaper on the protests from Beirut, and it has no connection to the US citizen being held," a statement on the publication's website said.

"The live video feed on Haaretz's Facebook account was an official Reuters video feed. Haaretz did not receive that video directly from anyone other than Reuters," it added.

The livestream had been taken from Reuters Connect, not Frakes, the agency said.

Frakes is happy to be released and in a statement shared with The New Arab he said: 

"I’m glad that I have been released from custody and that the investigation led to my being proven innocent. I am also extremely grateful for the love and support that I have been receiving from my amazing colleagues here in Lebanon and throughout the region.

"I’m now looking forward to seeing my girlfriend again and getting back to reporting the news." 

When contacted, the Reuters office in London confirmed in a phone call that the livestream of Lebanon was from Reuters Connect, a platform accessible by news publications across the world used to source videos, photos and texts for news stories.

Regarding Haaretz coverage specifically, a representative told The New Arab in an email: "Our live video streams are available to news organisations worldwide through Reuters Connect.

There were worries about the way Frakes would be treated in intelligence detention, which is subject to a closed military court system.

Frakes had been in Beirut over the weekend taking photos of the protest, which had taken a violent turn as police targeted demonstrators with rubber bullets and tear gas.

A source close to the situation told The New Arab at the time that he was simply "at the wrong place, wrong time" and feared that he had been taken in to be interrogated.

As anti-establishment protests raged across the country, journalists are baring the brunt of police violence.

Between 16 and 19 January alone, Lebanese security forces assaulted more than 20 journalists and media workers covering the protests in Beirut.

This story was updated with a new headline and a statement released by Nicholas Frakes on 21 January

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