WASHINGTON (AP) — Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut have started to destroy classified material as a security precaution amid anti-American protests in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.
A State Department status report obtained Monday by The Associated Press said the Beirut embassy had “reviewed its emergency procedures and is beginning to destroy classified holdings.” It also said that local Lebanese employees were sent home early due to protests by the militant Shiite group Hezbollah over an anti-Muslim film produced in the U.S.
In Washington, a State Department official said there was no imminent threat to the heavily fortified Beirut embassy, which is about an hour away from where the nearest demonstration is planned.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss security procedures, said the decision to “reduce classified holdings” was routine and made by embassy staff.
Protesters have breached the walls or compounds of several U.S. diplomatic missions, including the consulate in Benghazi, Libya where the ambassador and three other Americans were killed, Cairo and Tunis since last Tuesday.