Lebanon minister threatens to sue The Telegraph over ‘ridiculous’ airport weapons-storage claims

LONDON: Lebanon’s Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamieh has threatened to sue The Telegraph for reporting claims that Hezbollah was using Beirut-Rafic Hariri Airport to smuggle weapons into the country.

At a press conference in Beirut on Sunday, Hamieh, the caretaker minister affiliated with Hezbollah, denied the allegations and described them as “ridiculous.”

He called for an “open to all” inspection of the site on Monday and announced plans to sue The Telegraph for defamation.

“The airport has been always a target of the Israeli enemy, and everything written in The Telegraph is untrue; no weapons are entering or leaving through the airport,” Hamieh said.

He said Lebanon’s customs officials “represent the state in protecting Beirut airport, and their integrity cannot be questioned,” and that they have “nothing to hide.”

The Telegraph published the report on Sunday alleging that Hezbollah was storing huge quantities of Iran-sourced weapons, missiles and explosives at Beirut-Rafic Hariri Airport.

The cache allegedly includes Iran-made Falaq unguided artillery rockets, Fateh-110 short-range missiles, road-mobile ballistic missiles, M-600 missiles that can reach up to 321 km, and other precision-guided weapons.

It also mentioned quantities of RDX, an explosive known as cyclonite or hexogen.

The British outlet cited an “anonymous airport worker” as the sole source of the claims.

Hamieh claimed The Telegraph had not consulted the British Department of Transport, which conducted a field visit of the airport in January.

He added that The Telegraph had initially claimed its source was an official from the International Air Transport Association, but later changed it to an unnamed worker.

“Is it conceivable that a reputable newspaper would change its sources within an hour?” Hamieh asked.

The Air Transport Union in Lebanon has denied the claims, stating that they were “mere illusions and lies aimed at endangering Beirut Airport and its civilian workers, as well as travelers to and from it, all of whom are civilians.”

The report was met with skepticism by some social media users, who slammed the British daily’s allegations as propaganda aimed at destabilizing the country.


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