After one day in arrest: Lebanese TV owner suspected of ''dealing with the enemy'' released
The owner of a Lebanese television channel Sunday was released a day after being arrested for allegedly having illegal contacts with Israel, but he remains under investigation, court sources said.
Tahseen Khayat, a Lebanese media tycoon and owner of New TV (NTV), was detained Saturday in a surprise military intelligence swoop on the television network's offices and his home, the Beirut media said Sunday.
The move against Khayat, who is suspected of "dealing with the enemy" in alleged encounters with Israelis in Qatar, was made at the weekend, which meant he was likely to spend at least two nights behind bars.
His television station offered a straightforward report on his detention, but rejected the accusations, insisting he was a nationalist who always defended "Arab and Palestinian causes and supported the intifada."
Some sources at the station linked his arrest to the ongoing saga of Al-Madina Bank after NTV aired an audio tape purportedly of Rana Kuleilat offering Wissam Abu Ayash, the son of her jailed former boss, $20 million in exchange for dropping charges against her.
Rana is at the center of major fraud and embezzlement cases at the Bank, where she worked as a managing director under Adnan and Ibrahim Abu Ayash, the main owners. Ibrahim is in jail and Adnan abroad.
NTV sources said Khayat had received a death threat by telephone in the afternoon, which prompted him to return to his home in Dohat al-Hoss, Naharnet reported. About an hour later, military intelligence personnel besieged the NTV building, demanding that Khayat hand himself over. When notified that he was not in, the unit searched the building then left.
At 6 p.m., military personnel appeared at his residence and led him away.
Khayat, who is reputedly close to Lebanon's President Lahoud, stirred an uproar earlier in the year with a program deemed insulting to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon's bankroller and key political ally of Prime Minister Hariri.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)