Beirut — Judge Carla Shawah of the Lebanese urgent appeals court rejected a request by businessman Ayman Jomaa to force retraction of a story about his businesses put out by Daraj, the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) and Al-Jadeed TV. He wanted the story immediately removed, with each news outlet forced to pay a $100,000 a day fine for every day they resisted.
ARIJ said the story by Carole Kerbage and Eman Al-Qaisi in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), was accurate and fair. “ARIJ never takes sides or goes after any particular person or institution, “ said ARIJ Executive Director Rana Sabbagh. “Our job is to look for evidence and to follow it to the truth, wherever that ends up.”
The judge ruled that the request from Jomaa was “inconsistent with the principle of freedom of speech guaranteed in the Constitution” and she noted that the story was based on that is now available to more than 100 international media outlets, all partners of the ICIJ in the Panama Papers.
The story Jomaa objected to focused on his considerable holdings in offshore companies and his failure to fully comply with questions and rules about ownership and capitalization of these firms.