Thursday, March 19, 2020

Shaheen Announces Release of Amer Fakhoury from Lebanon

MARCH 19, 2020
**Senator Shaheen has been working to free Dover-resident Amer Fakhoury who was held in Lebanon and whose health is in critical condition** 
**Shaheen spoke on the phone with Amer soon after his release**
(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has been working closely with Amer Fakhoury's lawyer, administration officials and diplomats to free Amer who had been held in Lebanon since September. Following months of detention and a diagnosis of Stage IV Lymphoma, Amer has finally been released and is on his way to the United States. Shaheen spoke on the phone with Amer soon after his release.
"Anytime a U.S citizen is wrongfully detained by a foreign government, we must use every tool at our disposal to free them," said Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "I'm very glad that Amer is finally coming home and will be reunited with his family. No family should have to go through what the Fakhoury family has gone through. His health is in critical condition and now it is vitally important that he receives proper treatment to get on the road to recovery. I have long supported close ties between the United States and Lebanon, and hope this is a first step to repairing relations."
Shaheen continued,"Securing Amer's release has been a bipartisan team effort, and I want to thank Amer's lawyer Celine Attalah, Ambassador O'Brien and his National Security Council staff, particularly Virginia Boney and others that cannot be named, Special Envoy Carstens, Ambassador Richard, Ambassador Shea and her stellar team, Secretary Esper, General Milley, Senator Cruz and his staff, Senator, Risch, Senator Menendez, Secretary Pompeo and President Trump." 
A statement issued by the Fakhoury family: "It's hard to put into words how grateful and relieved we are to finally be returning to the United States with Amer. We have been through a nightmare that we would never wish on anyone. From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank everyone who believed in Amer's innocence and fought tirelessly to bring him home to the country he loves. First and foremost, we want to thank Senator Shaheen and her staff who have been relentless in their efforts to free Amer. Senator Shaheen pursued every means possible to secure Amer's freedom—this would not have happened without her. Amer considers Senator Shaheen his hero."
The statement continues, "We want to make special mention of Naz Durakoglu on Shaheen's staff. We also want to give special thanks to Senator Cruz and everyone in the administration who assisted this enormous effort, in particular, Ambassador O'Brien, Virginia Boney, Special Envoy Carstens, Ambassador Shea, Under Secretary Hale, Assistant Secretary Schenker, the U.S. embassy's consular affairs team, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Milley, Ambassador Richard, Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Esper and President Trump. Everyone involved exhibited incredible dedication to their fellow citizen. We also want to thank the journalists who reported accurately on Amer and avoided the slander that was being directed at him. Amer is in very poor health and urgently needs care, but all of you gave him a fighting chance and most importantly, hope and freedom. God Bless America."
Senators Shaheen and Cruz introduced the Zero Tolerance for Unlawful Detentions of U.S. Citizens in Lebanon Act (Zero Tolerance Act) would impose sanctions against Lebanese officials who are involved in the unlawful detainment, arrest or abuse of any United States citizen in Lebanon.
Amer is a well-known and well-liked small business owner from Dover, New Hampshire who was visiting Lebanon in September 2019 when his U.S. passport was confiscated. Soon after, he was taken into custody and illegally detained in Beirut. While in prison, it was discovered that he was suffering from stage 4 cancer. Earlier this year, the Lebanese military court charged Amer with unsubstantiated crimes that carry a punishment of death without producing any material evidence to back these allegations. A judge eventually dismissed the charges against him. Since September, Shaheen has been working with Amer's lawyer, the White House and the State Department to free him. Shaheen raised his case multiple times in Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Subcommittee hearings.

Release of Detained American Citizen Amer Fakhoury

03/19/2020 11:56 AM EDT
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
American citizen Amer Fakhoury, who has been in detention in Lebanon since September, is returning to the United States where he will be reunited with his family and receive urgent medical treatment. His return comes as a relief to those who have followed the case with grave concern. We are relieved to be able to welcome him back home.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Remarks of U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy C. Shea

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 13 March, 2020 | Good morning.  Sabah al-kheir.  I want to thank Prime Minister Diab—as well as President Aoun, Speaker Berri, and Foreign Minister Hitti—for their very warm welcome.  I am honored to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon and to work alongside the Lebanese people, who are famous not only for their hospitality, but also for their resilience, diversity, and entrepreneurship.

Today I discussed with Prime Minister Diab the strength and potential of the U.S. partnership with Lebanon, and our shared stake in a Lebanon that is stable, secure, and sovereign.  This is a partnership that is vitally important not only to both of our countries, but to all of the countries in the region.

The people of Lebanon have rightly called for reform, an end to corruption, and the imposition of effective policies necessary to extricate Lebanon from its an unprecedented economic crisis.  The United States continues to back the protestors' legitimate demands for economic opportunity, accountability, and transparency.  Only by meeting those demands can Lebanon initiate the difficult process of restoring international confidence.

The United States is proud to have been a committed partner to Lebanon since the 1800s.  We have deep ties in education, in business, in security, and in people-to-people and family relationships, including my own, that touch all walks of life.  We seek a bright future for the Lebanese people, who deserve a stable, secure, sovereign, and prosperous country.  We stand with the Lebanese people in encouraging their government to effect real change in its policies, and to chart a course that will earn the confidence of those it means to govern – and, in doing so, secure the support of the international community.

Thank you again for the warm welcome that you have extended me. Shukran.


Friday, March 06, 2020

Ambassador Richard Bids Farewell to the Lebanese

Media Notice
For Immediate Release
By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 26 February, 2020
Good morning, everybody.
I'm here today to talk about my departure from Lebanon.  As my time in Lebanon comes to a close, I want to thank the people of Lebanon for the kindness, the hospitality, and the warmth that they have all shown me and the whole U.S. Embassy team for the three and a half years that I have been here.  It's been a privilege and an honor to represent the United States in a place where we have such a long and historic and important relationship and interests.  
We established a diplomatic presence in Lebanon in 1833, and ever since, Americans have been by Lebanon's side, willing and engaged as a partner for the future.  We were here to support the founding of the Lebanese American University in 1835 and the American University of Beirut in 1866, and we continue to support their role as beacons to Lebanon and to the entire region.  Freedom of thought and expression, creative and critical thinking, and civic responsibility and leadership are qualities that are needed in this country, today more than ever before.   
Lebanon is at a turning point. In October, citizens from all sects and all geographic regions went to the streets to demand better from their government.  And they are right. There is no reason a country this blessed with so many gifts, including incredible human resources, does not have in 2020 a modern waste management system, 24/7 electricity for everyone, a single armed force under the control of the state, and a growing economy.   
The United States has been with the Lebanese people consistently.  We are active in all eight governorates of Lebanon and in most of its 1,100 municipalities, engaging with Lebanese citizens to identify areas of shared concern and working to help them to find solutions.  
But we as outsiders cannot alone fix what is not working.  This is the time for all Lebanese citizens to address the issues of governance and economy head on.  Difficult decisions have to be made, and everyone will bear some of the burden. But I believe everyone recognizes that the system of the last few decades is no longer working.  So, this is a historic opportunity for the Lebanese people to turn the page. It is a chance to chart a new course that will see this country realize its full potential as a modern and flourishing member of the international community.  The success that so many Lebanese emigrants achieve in countries like the United States is testament to the fact that such success is possible here too.   
The people of Lebanon are the country's greatest strength, and we have seen them act in remarkable unity to express legitimate concerns about their future.  You hold the power to turn these dreams for your country into reality, and the United States stands with you in a pursuit of such a bright future.    
I am confident you will find incoming U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea to be an outstanding representative of the United States and a friend to Lebanon, leading our Embassy team and working closely with all of you to nurture and build our relationship.  And  I trust that you will welcome her with the same open arms which you extended to me upon my arrival several years ago.  
With that, thank you very, very much.  I bid farewell to all of you. And I look forward to a very, very bright future for Lebanon.  Thank you.