Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Syria's ongoing dominance of Lebanese politics, government, and society continued to inhibit press freedom in Lebanon in 2003. Although the constitution provides for freedom of the press, Lebanese government actions severely limit this freedom. A 1991 treaty between Syria and Lebanon includes an explicit pledge by Lebanon to ban all political and media activity that might harm Syria; strict defamation and security laws prohibit criticism of top leaders and restrict political debate. In February 2003, Adonis Akra, a professor who wrote a book about his experience in detention after a crackdown on anti-Syrian activists, was indicted on charges of tarnishing the reputation of the judiciary and harming relations with Syria. Amer Mashmoushi, the managing editor of the daily Al-Liwa, was indicted in July on charges of defaming the president after writing an article critical of the president's handling of a banking scandal. In December, the Lebanese government temporarily detained Tahsin Khayyat, chairman of the NTV television station, accused him of having ties with Israel and damaging Lebanon's relations with Syria, and banned NTV broadcasts for a two-day period. The 2002 closure of the Murr television station for broadcasting anti-Syria material remained in effect throughout the year, despite legal appeals. A limited degree of diversity and economic freedom does exist in Lebanon's media. Most media outlets in Lebanon are privately owned, including six independent television stations and nearly three dozen independent radio stations. Access to the Internet is generally not restricted.