A U.S. senator is threatening Lebanon with sanctions over the arrest and imprisonment of a cancer-stricken American citizen.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is reportedly working on a sanctions bill, told Fox News that Amer Fakhoury is being held by authorities despite no proof of wrongdoing.
“There has been no evidence to substantiate the charges against Amer Fakhoury, and his health condition is dire,” the New Hampshire Democrat said. “Time is of the essence, and the Lebanese government needs to understand there will be consequences for his continued detention.”
Fakhoury, who was born in Lebanon, was arrested there during a visit last September after a Hezbollah-affiliated publication alleged that he tortured people imprisoned by the South Lebanon Army, a majority-Christian militia group backed by Israel in its fight against Hezbollah and Palestinian militias during the 1980s and 1990s.
He was held for six months before being charged with murder, kidnapping, and the torture of prisoners at Khiam detention center, which is located near Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.
Celine Atallah, Fakhoury’s lawyer, said that the charges are made up and noted that the names of SLA members accused of torture have been publicly released and do not include Fakhoury.
“Amer’s only crime is that he is a United States citizen, which is making the Lebanese government hold him hostage to gain leverage over the United States,” she said. “This is an egregious act of criminality by them.”
Tony Badran with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said that Hezbollah, a group that is aligned with Iran and opposed to Israel, is the driving force behind the charges and detention.
“Hezbollah runs the entire political order in Lebanon. Hence, any government which emerges from that order is a Hezbollah government,” Badran said.
Fakhoury’s family members said they are grateful for Shaheen’s help in trying to push for his release and explained that Fakhoury is suffering from stage 4 B-cell lymphoma.
“He is gravely ill, and the hospital lacks the basic medicine in order to treat him properly,” the family said in a statement.
Fakhoury’s family has also appealed to President Trump for help, noting that he supported Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
“The family calls on President Trump to help bring this innocent American citizen back home,” the family said. “He is in critical condition, and every day, his health is deteriorating. We fear that our father will die in Lebanon.”
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