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‘A huge crime’: Archive of Lebanon's news agency since 1961 is 'stolen'

The archive belonging to the National News Agency contained photographs of Lebanon’s civil war.
A woman on September 15, 2022, visits an exhibition titled 'Allo, Beirut?', that shows archives of Lebanon's troubled past fused with artistic depictions of a grim present, at the capital's Beit Beirut heritage-house-turned-museum. - Newspaper clippings, film negatives and diary entries from before Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war tell the story of government corruption, public sector strikes and student protest movements.(Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)

A Lebanese government archive was reported stolen on Monday, including trove of data and information from the civil war era in the country. 

Lebanon’s official National News Agency said its archive server was stolen along with five computers from the archive room. Ministry of Information staff discovered the theft on Monday morning. The server included “pictures of all occasions since 1961.” Information Minister Ziad Makary referred to the theft as “a huge crime,” according to the agency. 

Makary later said that what was stolen constitutes a “small part” of the archive and that the stolen contents are saved by the ministry, the National News Agency reported. 

Lebanon’s national archives are located in a building that houses two ministries. It is across the street from the Lebanese central bank in Beirut, the Associated Press reported.

The assailants broke the door and its lock into the archive room. Five computers were stolen along with the servers, Lebanese TV channel LBCI reported. 

Why it matters: The fact that the archive included photos from 1961 onward means that it included depictions of the Lebanese civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. The war was a major event in Lebanese and world history and included interventions from the United States, Syria, Israel and others. 

Some in Lebanon scoffed at the news due to the government's apparent incompetence in relation to the theft. Sky News reporter Salman Andary tweeted that the Lebanese state is "non-existent" and called the news a "farce." 

Know more: The theft is just the latest tragedy to befall crisis-stricken Lebanon. In August, more silos in Beirut’s port collapsed due to damage from the 2020 explosion. Earlier this month, three Lebanese soldiers were killed during a drug raid. 

Lebanon’s economic crisis, which began in 2019, is continuing unabated. Most recently, several banks were burned in Lebanon in opposition to restrictions on withdrawals and the continued devaluation of the Lebanese pound. 

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