Labelling the detention of lawyer Muhammad al-Maghrabi as politically motivated and outrageous, the Human Rights Watch accused Lebanon of attempting to silence him.

“Lebanese authorities have harassed Dr al-Maghrabi for years, but his arrest…is simply outrageous,” Virginia Sherry, associate director of the Middle East and North African division of Human Rights Watch said.

Al-Maghrabi, who has worked against corruption and has criticized Syria’s domination over Lebanon, was arrested after the Lebanese bar association complained he was illegally practicing law.

“He has steadfastly refused to remain silent about Syria’s repressive role in Lebanon and about corruption in the judiciary. This courageous man must be released immediately,” the Human Rights Watch official demanded.

''Lebanese authorities have harassed Dr al-Maghrabi for years, but his arrest…is simply outrageous''

Human Rights Watch

Al-Maghrabi, 64, could face six months to three years in jail if convicted.

Lebanon’s public prosecutor, Adnan Addoum, however insisted the case against al-Maghrabi was not political.

“Not at all. All his rights are protected,” he said.

But Human Rights Watch said Al-Maghrabi had earned the ire of the Lebanese authorities by working on politically sensitive cases.

He made formal complaints about two Lebanese who disappeared in 1997 and then were held incommunicado in Damascus.

The rights group accused the Lebanese bar association of repeatedly trying to debar Al-Maghrabi from practicing.