A Lebanese man in Cyprus, who was facing serious terrorism charges in connection with a social media post about the country’s president, walked free this week after a Limassol court ruled allegations against him could not be substantiated.
According to local media, a 37-year-old male from Lebanon was on Tuesday acquitted by a Limassol criminal court on charges related to terrorism, which could have landed him in jail for several years.
The defendant was apprehended in a village outside Limassol in November 2020 after authorities received information from foreign intelligence identifying the suspect as a terrorist sympathizer. Days earlier, five protesters had been detained outside the French embassy in Nicosia, where dozens of Muslim residents on the island had gathered to demonstrate against France’s stance towards Islam.
After he had reportedly posted a comment on Facebook appearing to praise a Chechen teenager who beheaded teacher in France in broad daylight, the suspect also allegedly made threats against Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who had joined other foreign leaders on social media to condemn the crime.
The suspect originally pleaded not guilty but he later changed his plea to guilty in September 2021, with the court rushing to schedule a date for hearing facts and sentencing date a few days later
The suspect originally pleaded not guilty but he later changed his plea to guilty in September 2021, with the court rushing to schedule a date for hearing facts and sentencing date a few days later.
It was still not fully clear whether there were previous attempts to alter charges or a deal reached between state prosecutors and the defendant.
But a lawyer who appeared September 28 on behalf of the defendant told the judge that her client wished to enter a change of plea.
This week the court found that state prosecutors failed to substantiate the allegations against the defendant, who withdrew his admission of guilt. After denying any wrongdoing, the man was acquitted.
The case against the Lebanese national was the first of its kind to be tried in the Republic of Cyprus under anti-terrorism legislation, with some offences carrying between ten years to life imprisonment.