Prominent Lebanese Journalist Joseph Samaha Dies

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Joseph Samaha, a prominent columnist who headed and co-founded major Lebanese publications during his career in journalism, has died, the syndicate of Lebanese journalists announced in a statement Sunday. He was 58.

Samaha, who for the past year was editor in chief of the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper, died early Sunday of a sudden heart attack in London, the statement and Al-Akhbar said.

A prominent columnist who is well known in the Arab world for his nationalist, secular writings and his support for the Palestinian cause, was born in 1949. He began his career in journalism in the early 1970s and helped co-found the leftist Lebanese daily As-Safir.

He worked for several publications, including the London-based pan Arab Al-Hayat daily, and was editor in chief of As-Safir from 2001 until 2005. He was appointed editor-in-chief of the newly established Al-Akhbar newspaper last year. He wrote several books and his front-page editorials were widely read.

Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said Lebanon has lost a symbol of journalism and intellect, adding Samaha was among “those who spent their life defending freedom of expression and (Lebanese) national unity.”

Al-Akhbar said Samaha had flown to London last week to be at the side of Al-Hayat journalist Hazem Saghiyeh, whose wife, a Lebanese writer and publicist, died after an illness.

Samaha’s body will be flown to Lebanon for burial, but no date was set for the funeral. He is survived by his daughter Omaya, 30, and son Ziad, 29.

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