12 December 2005
Press Freedom:
WAN Condemns Murder of Lebanese Publisher Gebran Tueni

The World Association of Newspapers today expressed its outrage and sorrow on the car bomb assassination of Gebran Tueni, its Board Member for Middle East Affairs.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of Mr Tueni, an outstanding, brave, and determined publisher and journalist," said WAN, which called on the Lebanese government to do everything possible to ensure that the killers are swiftly brought to justice.

Mr Tueni was a WAN Board Member for 10 years. In the mid-1990s, he received the WAN "Award for Publishing Achievement" for his courage and perseverance in bringing out his newspaper, An
-Nahar, throughout the Lebanese civil war. He was for many years a leading member of the WAN Press Freedom Committee and participated in press freedom missions to China and Algeria, among others.

In a statement, WAN said: "The world press community has lost one of its great defenders of press freedom and freedom of expression. Mr Tueni's death is a terrible loss not only for his family, friends and colleagues, but for the cause of freedom and hope in the Middle East.

"Gebran Tueni knew very well that he was a 'high priority' target for the killers trying to undermine the political process in Lebanon. He
nevertheless chose to stay at the helm of his newspaper, which under his leadership was a beacon for independent journalism in the Arab world.

"Just last month, Gebran was asked by Timothy Balding, Director General of WAN, how he found the courage to go on working under serious threat of death, He replied: 'What else should I do? I'm happy. My newspaper, by telling the truth, has been key as a catalyst in the progress towards real independence for my country. After all these years of conflict, that's something we can be proud of.'

"Gebran is the fourth journalist who has criticised Syrian influence in Lebanon to be attacked since the February 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri; his death follows the murder in June of An-Nahar columnist Samir Qassir. WAN calls on the Lebanese government to quickly find the killers and bring them to justice. It also calls on the United Nations to pursue its investigation of Syria and to take appropriate action against the regime.

"Gebran's colleagues at WAN express their profound condolences and grief to his family, colleagues and friends. The world press community has lost a fine and brave man."