U.S. Journalist Nada Homsi Released From Detainment After Outcry From Human Rights Groups

Lebanon's General Security Directorate released U.S. freelance journalist Nada Homsi Wednesday after detaining her for unspecified "security reasons" last month.

The security force arrested Homsi on drug possession charges on November 16 after allegedly finding a small amount of cannabis in her Beirut apartment. Homsi's lawyer, Diala Chehade, called the public prosecutor, who issued a warrant for her release on November 25.

However, Homsi continued to be held "for security reasons." General Security refused to specify what that meant. The agency also issued a deportation order for her.

The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released a joint statement Wednesday calling her detainment "arbitrary."

"Not only did General Security officers raid Homsi's apartment without producing a judicial warrant, but they also violated her rights in detention by denying her access to a lawyer," said Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at HRW.

Homsi was released just hours after the statement went public. All of her documents that had been confiscated were also returned.

"Nada is at home and the decision to deport her has been dropped," Chehade told the Associated Press.

Homsi has worked with several international and Arab news outlets, including NPR and the Middle East Eye.

"I feel good that I'm free, but I shouldn't have been arrested in the first place," Homsi told AP, adding that Lebanese security agencies are "going after foreign journalists so that they can't cover things that are happening in Lebanon."

Lebanon, flag
Nada Homsi, a U.S. journalist detained in Lebanon, was released Wednesday following a joint statement from Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch calling her detainment "arbitrary." Stock Image/Getty Images

General Security members are deployed at Lebanon's border crossings, ports and the country's only international airport, and the department usually deals with foreigners by issuing visas and residency permits.

Chehade said Homsi lives in Beirut's predominantly Christian neighborhood of Achrafieh and had raised earlier this year a Palestinian flag on her apartment in what angered the area's mayor who complained to the Lebanese army. Army intelligence members came to her apartment then and asked Homsi to remove the flag, which she did, Chehade said.

Homsi wrote a post on her Facebook account detailing the flag incident in May, her lawyer said.

"I believe this was the motive that led to the raid," Chehade said.

On her Twitter account, Homsi wrote that she is currently working for National Public Radio and usually writes about Syria and Lebanon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.