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September 25
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Lebanese judge has ordered the release without charges of a man who took hostages at a Beirut bank last week in an attempt to access his savings frozen after the country's 2019 financial collapse, Reuters reported.

Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, 42, entered a branch of the Federal Bank of Lebanon last Thursday and took employees hostage. He agreed to let them go and surrender after the bank promised to pay him $35,000 of his total deposit of more than $200,000. .

Hussein was detained after releasing all six hostages but was released today without any charges, his brother Atef told Reuters.

"He is sitting with his family now and just relaxing a bit. There is no charge against him and he is a free man," Atef Hussein said.

According to Fouad Debs, the lawyer who represented Hussein, the bank filed the charges on Friday and withdrew them on Tuesday. Debs said it is still possible that the state prosecution will bring lighter charges.

At the time of the hostage taking, a crowd gathered outside the bank to support Hussein, chanting "Down with the rule of the banks!"

Since then, many in the country have praised him as a hero for opposing informal capital controls that were not formalized by law and gave banks wide latitude in deciding who was allowed access to funds and how much they could get.

Lebanese banks restricted hard currency withdrawals for most depositors after the 2019 financial crisis left eight out of ten people poor.

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