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Man Sentenced Over Assad Comment

June 21, 2000

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A military court sentenced a Lebanese man to one year in prison for saying the late Syrian President Hafez Assad’s death was cause for celebration, court officials said Wednesday.

The court found Salah Noureddine guilty of vilifying Assad. In addition to the prison term handed down late Tuesday, it fined him $600, court officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Noureddine was arrested shortly after Assad’s June 10 death for comments he made to friends and relatives. He has been jailed pending trial. He has two days to appeal.

Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon, but some Lebanese privately chafe at their neighbor’s dominance.

Lebanese laws forbid defamation of Arab leaders or attempts to harm Lebanon’s relations with brotherly and friendly countries, the court officials said. Last week, Lebanese authorities banned nine British, French and U.S. newspapers and magazines for publishing reports about Assad’s death considered insulting to the Syrian leader.

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