In December, a Lebanese military tribunal sentenced Kinda el-Khatib to three years of forced labor, ostensibly because she helped to arrange for an Israeli journalist to interview a dual Lebanese-American citizen living in Oregon. Joseph Braude tells her story:
Kinda el-Khatib, a twenty-three-year-old . . . from the northern province of Akkar, was arrested on June 20, 2020, by the internal-security arm of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). Sixteen masked men barged into her home and took her away to be interrogated at length, deprived of food for two days, denied counsel and contact with her family, and brought to a court-martial—though she is a civilian—without being apprised of the charges against her.
When finally informed of the charges in court—“violating the law boycotting Israel” and “communicating with enemy agents”—Khatib was astounded.
What was [her] real offense? She had been politically active on social media, accusing Hizballah and its allies of responsibility for most of Lebanon’s governmental dysfunction, corruption, and suborning of its armed forces. Earlier run-ins as her popularity grew enabled her detractors to get permission to tap her phone. She was not intimidated.
America, Braude explains, is not powerless in this situation:
As the U.S. government provides substantial military assistance to the LAF, the Biden administration, U.S. lawmakers, and the American human-rights community should mobilize to demand Khatib’s immediate and unconditional release. The local Lebanese protests on her behalf may have saved her from worse abuse in prison, but it will take more substantial, international pressure to show the LAF that it will incur a price for upholding the bogus sentence.
[Meanwhile], several Arab states are now escalating retribution against their own citizens who connect with Israelis for any reason, in an attempt to counter recent diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and four Arab states. An ensemble of U.S. actions should be marshaled to confront them.
Read more on American Purpose: https://www.americanpurpose.com/articles/true-grit-in-lebanon/