Lebanese Authorities Detain a EU Citizen that was Travelling to Moscow due to Supposedly Having Syrian Background


August 14th, 2017 – Fort Russ News –

– FRN – – translated by Dimitar Dimitrov –

Bulgarian national Joseph Al-Ahmed, a film director doing a BA in Moscow, Russia, the son of renowned Bulgarian journalist Olya Al-Ahmed, and his disabled cousin, traveling with a Syrian passport, were not allowed to board Friday’s (August 11th, 2017) flight of the Aegean Airlines from Beirut to Moscow via Athens, because of a recent ordinance disallowing Syrian nationals to pa

ss through the territory of Greece without valid transit visas. They were accompanied by two other people, a young man and a girl, also Syrian nationals. All four of them have valid work contracts with Russia Today (RT), the first Russian 24/7 English-language news channel which brings the Russian view on global news.

Joseph’s cousin, Ashtar Al-Ahmed, an artist and a graphic designer, holds a certificate of disability, as she cannot move one of her legs and has to use crutches to move around.

The four challenged the air-carrier’s decision not to allow them to board the plane with the argument that it is the company’s responsibility to notify their passengers about all documents they must present in order to board their flight. No information about any transit visas had been published on Aegean Airline’s official website until yesterday, though.

Joseph Al-Ahmed approached the local representative of Aegean Airlines with a request to help them board the aircraft. Joseph told him he is a Bulgarian national and as such it should be no problem for him to pass through Greece, as both countries are in the EU. Finally, he told the Lebanese representative of the air carrier that he had come to Beirut onboard the same flight from Moscow, via Athens. Joseph also pointed out that his companions, traveling with Syrian passports, should be compensated with the full amount they paid for the tickets that they now cannot use.

The Lebanese employee of Aegean Airlines asked Joseph to show him his Bulgarian passport.

After fidgeting the passport in his hands, the Lebanese official of Aegean Airlines said to Joseph through gritted teeth: “Do not lie to me that you do not speak Arabic and you do not have Syrian citizenship! I am not letting you board this plane!”

Having said that the Lebanese official of the Greek company calmly put Joseph’s passport into his pocket.

In a matter of minutes, Joseph, his disabled cousin and their two companions found themselves surrounded by about fifteen local law enforcers of different services, who the Lebanese employee of Aegean Airlines had called in.

Without any legal ground to do so, they arrested Joseph Al-Ahmed and locked him up in a room for questioning.

The officer in charge told Joseph he did not speak any English and ordered him to answer his questions in Arabic.

Joseph’s Bulgarian passport remained with the Lebanese officers throughout the conversation. The Lebanese officer was constantly harassing Joseph about his Syrian origin. The so-called routine questioning continued all night and Joseph was released early the next morning.

Of course, the Aegean Airlines flight to Moscow via Greece took off without the four young journalists. And their tickets were good for the shredder only.

Meanwhile, Joseph’s friends called the Bulgarian embassy in Beirut for assistance, but a polite voice in the receiver calmly explained to them that the embassy is closed on Friday.

After a few more distress calls from Joseph’s friends, the voice reluctantly gave them a mobile number to which they should send the detained person’s mobile in a text message.

They did so, but nobody came to assist them, neither did Joseph receive a call from the Bulgarian embassy in Beirut.

The four young people, emotionally and physically exhausted, had to empty their pockets and use all their money to buy some outrageously expensive tickets from Beirut to Moscow via Doha.

Joseph Al-Ahmed and his companions are firmly decided to sue the Aegean Airlines for moral damages and request a full refund of USD 4,600 for their tickets.

They have also filed a written complaint to the Bulgarian embassy in Beirut, because of Joseph’s illegal detention, followed by unreasonably-long questioning at the Beirut Airport.

(Reported by Olya Al-Ahmed, translated to English by Dimitar Dimitrov)

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