A Lebanese judge ruled on Saturday that local and foreign media are prohibited from interviewing the country’s U.S. envoy for an entire year after she criticized Hezbollah in an interview.

Judge Mohamad Mazeh in the city of Tyre said that he had received a complaint about an interview that U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea gave to the Saudi-owned Al-Hadath TV, during which she expressed her administration’s “great concerns” about Hezbollah’s role in the Lebanese government, AP reported.

According to the report, Mazeh explained his ruling on the grounds that her comment threatened social peace. Critics of Hezbollah in the country slammed the decision.

Responding to the ruling in an interview with Lebanon’s MTV station, Shea said: “I think it is a distraction. I wish people would spend their time and attention trying to solve the problems facing the country. The U.S. embassy will not be silenced.”

Lebanon is suffering an economic crisis, and ongoing protests against corruption have rocked the country.

Separately, the U.S. Justice Department appealed a federal judge’s decision to release convicted Hezbollah financier Kassim Tajideen three years into his five-year sentence, due to poor health and the risk of COVID-19 infection in prison, AP reported on Saturday.

Tajideen, 64, is a Lebanese-Belgian citizen and multimillionaire, whom the U.S.  Treasury’s placed on its list of “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” in 2009. He was sentenced to five years in an American jail in 2019.

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