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Mystery Over Third Mobile Network in Lebanon

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Lebanon's Interior Minister Ziad Baroud resigned last week following a bizarre incident when the caretaker Telecoms Minister Sharbel Nahas was blocked from entering a building accused of operating a mobile network without authorisation from the government.

According to the Telecoms Minister, some "400 armed men" from the Internal Security Forces (ISF) prevented him from reaching the building. 

Shortly afterwards, he held a press conference where he explained that he had been told that a 3rd mobile network was operating from the building, and after being blocked from entering the building, he accused the ISF of "fomenting a coup d'état".

ISF chief Major-General Ashraf Rifi then disobeyed an order to order ISF members to evacuate the building in question.

Following the incident, the Interior Minister Ziad Baroud resigned, saying that he was no longer able to enforce the law in the country.

President Michel Sleiman has now requested caretaker Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar to investigate what is going on in the controversial building and find out if the Security Services are operating their own private mobile network without permission.

Although the existence of the third network is known, as it is based on donated equipment, it is supposed to be only in a testing phase at the moment. Suspicions that the network was already carrying live calls for politically connected people have been spurred by allegations that the two public networks were routinely being hacked into.

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Tags: Lebanon