Telecoms data dispute resolved: Charbel
BEIRUT, Apr 13, 2012 (The Daily Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told The Daily Star Friday the dispute over access to telecoms data to help track down the suspects in the attempted assassination of the head of the Lebanese Forces has been resolved.
Charbel said that following talks with the judicial committee tasked with approving access to telecoms data, an agreement was reached Thursday night to change the request from one asking to obtain full cell phone records to one demanding "phone calling" activity only.
"I will send a request to the judicial committee after the [Easter] holiday to simply obtain phone calling activity," Charbel told The Daily Star, adding that this process should be finalized next week.
He explained that at the core of the dispute with the Telecommunications Ministry was what he termed "all data," which includes telephone records, text messages and conversations.
Charbel said access to phone calling data would "help us monitor suspects in terrorist operations, such as the case in the attempted assassination of LF leader Samir Geagea."
Geagea escaped an assassination attempt April 4 when a sniper fired at his residence while taking a stroll outside.
Charbel said that the Telecoms Ministry, just like the judicial committee, had argued that access to the entire data could place Lebanese individuals at risk of having their phone privacy violated.
Members of the March 14 coalition had urged Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government to swiftly repeal a decision preventing security services from accessing phone records.
March 14 coalition officials -- who held a wide-ranging meeting at LF leader Samir Geagea's residence in Maarab Wednesday -- warned the government against withholding telecoms data that would significantly help in the investigation of the assassination attempt on Geagea.
Charbel said the Interior Ministry would soon be independent from the Telecoms Ministry after the establishment of an eavesdropping center which will allow security services to intercept phone calls.
"The center is being equipped with modern technology. The process should be completed within four months. Thus, we won't be needing the Telecoms Ministry anymore," he said.
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