WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States dubbed former Lebanese government minister Michel Samaha a terrorist and froze his assets on Monday, saying he had supported attempts by Syria to incite violence in Lebanon.
The U.S. Treasury designated Samaha, a former minister of information and tourism, as a “global terrorist” and said he had collaborated with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to destabilize Lebanon.
“The United States will continue to expose any attempts by the (Assad) regime to meddle in the affairs of its neighbours and further destabilize the region,” Treasury said in a statement.
Treasury said its designation, which freezes any assets held by Samaha under U.S. jurisdiction, also prohibits Americans from doing business with Samaha.
Samaha was arrested by Lebanese authorities in August for allegedly plotting to incite violence in Lebanon. He has been an outspoken supporter of Assad during the 17-month-old Syrian uprising.
He served as a minister in three Lebanese governments between 1992 and 2004, when Syria dominated politics and security in its smaller neighbour. Samaha is also a former member of parliament.
In 2007, he was named on a White House-issued list of Lebanese and Syrian figures suspected of working to undermine Lebanon’s stability and the Western-backed Beirut government in office at the time.