BEIRUT, Feb. 27 (AP) — Unidentified assailants broke into the offices of Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency and stole a server containing its files, the Information Ministry said Monday.
The theft took place in a heavily fortified area, further reflecting the continued decline of the cash-strapped country.
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The archives are housed in a building with two ministries opposite Lebanon’s central bank, next to the heavily guarded Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the country’s security.
On Monday morning, Ministry of Information employees saw the door to the underground archives room open and the lock broken.
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The archives contain photos and material dating back to 1961, according to a statement from Caretaker Information Minister Ziad Makari.
The attackers also stole five computers. He called it “a crime on a national scale”.
The theft is yet another blow to Lebanon at a time when it faces a devastating economic crisis.
For years, the country has struggled to fund and maintain its national media agency and archives. France and Lebanon signed an agreement in 2022 to digitize their archives as part of a wider effort to preserve Lebanon’s heritage and history.
Laure Sleiman, who ran the state-run news organization from 2009 until late 2019, found more than 2 million negatives in a dark room riddled with broken furniture, office equipment and rats , who led the filing effort.
An investigation is underway to locate the stolen server and apprehend the perpetrators, Makari said.
“When I heard the news, I couldn’t express my sadness,” Suleiman told The Associated Press. “I believe in the intelligence community’s work, but it all depends on who stole it and whether politics will interfere with the investigation as usual.” (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)