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Lebanon’s Bassil rejects US sanctions as unjust and politically motivated

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Influential Lebanese Christian politician Gebran Bassil said on Sunday that U.S. sanctions against him were unjust, politically motivated and the result of his refusal to break ties with Hezbollah.

The United States on Friday blacklisted Bassil, the leader of Lebanon’s biggest Christian political bloc and the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, accusing him of corruption and ties to the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah movement that Washington deems a terrorist group.

A target of Lebanese protests against a political elite accused of pillaging the state, Bassil denied U.S. accusations of corruption and said the issue did not come up in conversations with U.S. officials when they demanded he sever ties with Hezbollah or face sanctions.

“These sanctions are an injustice and I will fight them and sue for damages,” he said in a televised speech.

Bassil, who harbors presidential ambitions, heads the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which was founded by Aoun, and has served as minister of telecoms, of energy and water and of foreign affairs.

The FPM has a political alliance with Hezbollah, which has become Lebanon’s most powerful political force. Bassil says the group is vital to the defense of Lebanon.

“These sanctions are an injustice and I will fight them and sue for damages,” he said in a televised speech.

Bassil, who harbors presidential ambitions, heads the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which was founded by Aoun, and has served as minister of telecoms, of energy and water and of foreign affairs.

The FPM has a political alliance with Hezbollah, which has become Lebanon’s most powerful political force. Bassil says the group is vital to the defense of Lebanon.

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