Lebanese Ex-FM to Challenge Sanctions US Imposed on Him
Gebran Bassil, a Lebanese lawmaker who heads the Free Patriotic Movement, a mostly Christian party, says he will take the US government to court in the United States to fend off sanctions the US Treasury imposed on him late last week for alleged corruption. At a Sunday news conference in Beirut, Bassil, a former foreign minister and the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, called the allegations “laughable,” saying he believed they stemmed from his alliance with Iran-backed Hizbullah. He related what he termed a “threatening” conversation he said he had with US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, who, he claimed, demanded that he sever his ties with Hizbullah. “I told her it doesn’t work with me that way,” Bassil said. On Friday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters in Washington: “The systemic corruption in Lebanon’s political system exemplified by Bassil has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people.” Bassil told reporters at his own news conference that allegations of corruption never came up in conversations he had with US officials.