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Police brought into diplomat row

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المصدر: The Sydney Morning Herald
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THREATS allegedly made by a Lebanese government official against a lawyer and a journalist involved in legal action against the Lebanese consul-general have been referred to police.

 

In a twist to the diplomatic row engulfing consul-general Robert Naoum, Sydney lawyer Rick Mitry says that a man claiming to be a Lebanese government official made a series of late-night calls warning him and his journalist client to drop the legal action.

 

Mr Mitry says the caller, who identified himself as ''Brigadier Khoury'' from Lebanon's ''Directorate of Intelligence'', left an intimidating phone message in Arabic saying ''it is forbidden to target the consul'' and if any harm comes to Mr Naoum, he and his client would be held personally responsible for the ''heinous campaign''.

 

The threats follow attempts last week to serve Mr Naoum with a legal notice to attend a bankruptcy examination in which he will have to reveal all his finances.

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The Sun-Herald does not suggest that Mr Naoum is responsible for the alleged threats

 

The action was taken after Mr Naoum refused to pay his growing legal and court costs, from an unsuccessful defamation case he took against journalist Nabil Dannawi, by claiming diplomatic immunity.

 

''It is a shame that some parties in Lebanon make phone threats and try to pressure our lawyer and also interfere with the course of justice in Australia,'' Mr Dannawi told The Sun-Herald.

 

Mr Mitry has asked state and federal police to investigate.

 

The Australian Federal Police said they were aware of ''information regarding threats to person/persons involved in this matter''. NSW Police have also spoken to Mr Mitry about the threats.

 

The highest Lebanese official in Australia, ambassador Jean Daniel, was asked to comment but did not return calls.

 

Mr Mitry revealed that he has also been targeted by people in Australia since he took on Mr Dannawi's legal case more than a year ago.

 

The trouble began in 2009 when Mr Naoum unsuccessfully took defamation action in the Supreme Court to stop Mr Dannawi's website, www.alankabout.com, from publishing material about him, which he argued was defamatory and threatened his safety.

 

The material likened Mr Naoum to a Mafia leader, accused him of being a Zionist, a spy, hypocritical, conceited, narcissistic and possibly a bully.

 

But the court rejected Mr Naoum's claim that the material was defamatory, instead saying the ''unstructured and irrelevant rantings'' on Mr Dannawi's website would be recognised by any objective reader as not ''emanating from an untroubled mind''.

 

Mr Naoum appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal but lost again and had costs awarded against him.

 

Mr Naoum argues that he does not have to pay the legal bills or court costs of the legal actions - that he himself started - because he has diplomatic immunity.

 

Mr Naoum did not return calls.

 

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/police-brought-into-diplomat-row-20110122-1a0jo.html#ixzz2gttUM5CI

 

المصدر: The Sydney Morning Herald

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