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28 May, 2024
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Man who threatened president pleads guilty

Lebanese national accused of being terrorist sympathizer changes plea in Cyprus’ unprecedented case


A man accused of issuing a threat against the Cypriot president has entered a change of plea, following his arrest in Limassol last year after he was identified by foreign intelligence as a terrorist sympathizer.

According to local media, a 37-year-old male accused of threatening President Nicos Anastasiades last November appeared before a Limassol district judge on Wednesday, when he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty while facing a number of charges.

Last November the suspect, described as a Lebanese national, was arrested in a village outside Limassol after police received information from a foreign intelligence contact, identifying the man as a terrorist sympathizer.

The suspect had reportedly made comments on social media about the killer of a French teacher in Paris, with a post on Facebook appearing to praise a Chechen teenager who beheaded the 47-year-old educator in broad daylight.

He then reportedly made threats against Anastasiades, who had joined other foreign leaders on social media to condemn the crime.

The suspect reportedly praised a Chechen teenager for beheading a French teacher and also made online threats against Anastasiades, who had joined foreign leaders in condemning the terrorist act

Days earlier, five protesters were arrested outside the French embassy in Nicosia, where dozens of Muslim residents on the island had gathered to demonstrate against France’s stance towards Islam.

Police said four male protesters in their early 20’s and 30’s were arrested on multiple charges including criminal conspiracy, while another person in his late 20’s was briefly detained for reportedly attacking a law enforcement agent during a clash incident.

Police Chief Stylianos Papatheodorou had suggested the actions of those arrested were isolated incidents, saying the perpetrators did not follow the instructions of organizers at the demonstration in which dozens of lawful citizens took part.

It was not clear whether there were any changes in charges or a deal reached between state prosecutors and the Lebanese defendant, who was said to have been residing in the Republic of Cyprus unlawfully.

But local media suggested that "incitement to commit terrorism" was a charge still included in the court document, making this the first ever such case to be tried in the Republic of Cyprus.

Cyprus police said the suspect was apprehended after foreign intelligence officers alerted their counterparts in Nicosia of the suspect’s alleged ties to terrorism. Citing public safety protocols, officials gave no further information about the case. 

The suspect will remain in custody at Central Prisons until September 28, when a hearing for facts and sentencing has been scheduled to take place at the Limassol courthouse.

Cyprus  |  Lebanon  |  terrorism  |  police  |  foreign intelligence  |  Samuel Paty  |  police  |  court  |  Limassol

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