US ambassador hits out at Lebanon’s Bassil, says he wanted to break with Hezbollah

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The United States hit back at Lebanon’s Gebran Bassil on Monday, one day after he lambasted Washington’s decision to sanction him for corruption and ties to Hezbollah.

Bassil, who was sanctioned last Friday under the Magnitsky Act to fight corruption and human rights abuses, held a press conference Sunday saying he would appeal the decision.

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He also said there was no proof of corruption on his part and said that in the meetings he had with the US ambassador, she never brought up corruption.

“In his speech, Bassil complained that I did not forewarn him previously that he would be punished based on corruption as if it’s my responsibility to do so,” Ambassador Dorothy Shea said in a statement.

Shea rejected claims that the sanctions were related to recent US presidential elections.

She also responding to Bassil for saying that she told him to cut his ties with Iran-backed Hezbollah, or else he would face sanctions.

“He, himself, expressed willingness to break with Hezbollah on certain conditions,” she said. “He actually expressed gratitude that the US had gotten him to see how the relationship is disadvantageous to the party.”

The US made the decision “in solidarity” with the Lebanese people, the US diplomat said.

Read more: Lebanon's Gebran Bassil says he will fight ‘unjust’ US sanctions against him