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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Jul 06th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Extremism In Lebanon arrow Shami: U.S. Embassy Eavesdropping Report Exaggerated
Shami: U.S. Embassy Eavesdropping Report Exaggerated PDF Print E-mail
Written by Naharnet   
Thursday, 04 March 2010


Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami said Thursday a report accusing the U.S. of eavesdropping is "exaggerated." 

The daily As-Safir had said in a recent report that the U.S. embassy in Lebanon has asked Lebanese police to provide the diplomatic mission with data on Lebanon's two mobile phone companies – Alfa and MTC Touch.

"The story was just a news report," Shami said after talks with Arab League chief Amr Moussa on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

"The official U.S. position, however, as we were told and understood, is that the issue is not so serious and the report has been exaggerated by the media," Shami told reporters.

"Lebanon's security is exposed by a global decision and by a security system that lacks national regulations and by a political system which makes Lebanese citizens serve as members to external powers," As-Safir wrote.

It said on April 1, 2009 a U.S. embassy official handed over a letter to the Office of Head of the Criminal Investigation Department at the headquarters of the Internal Security Forces in Beirut.

The letter, according to As-Safir, called on ISF to provide the embassy with data on Alfa and MTC as well as an overview of transmission and distribution in terms of the operating boundaries.

The embassy was also said to have asked for technical details related to the telecommunications sector.

As-Safir said that one of the two mobile companies turned down the embassy request, saying it won't give any information unless authorized to do so by Telecommunications Minister Sharbel Nahhas.

It said the request went through many levels of the Lebanese bureaucracy, until it finally landed at Nahhas' office, a process which took about a month.

As-Safir said Jebran Bassil, Telecommunications Minister at the time, did not hesitate to reject the request, citing his refusal in a letter to Interior Minister Ziad Baroud as follows: "We found that the U.S. Embassy request to the ISF asking for information about the mobile broadcast networks is an extremely important issue related to national security. Such information, consequently, cannot be offered to foreign embassies."

Beirut, 04 Mar 10, 13:08


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