France to Release Lebanese Militant Despite U.S. Concern

Georges Ibrahim Abdallah
Georges Ibrahim Abdallah

A French court will allow the release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese national and former pro-Palestinian militant who has been jailed for 28 years, provided he is expelled from France, a source close to the matter said Thursday.

Abdallah, 61, a former guerilla in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was granted parole in November but was not released pending an appeal. The source said that a Paris court had confirmed the parole decision, giving the Interior Ministry until January 14 to issue an expulsion order.

The US ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, criticized the November decision to grant him parole, noting that Abdallah has never expressed remorse and could still be a threat if released.

Abdallah was arrested in 1984 and sentenced to life in prison three years later for his involvement in the 1982 murders of US military attaché Charles Ray and Israeli diplomat Yakov Barsimentov in Paris, as well as in an assassination attempt on Robert O. Homme, an American consul in Strasbourg. The Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions, of which Abdallah was a former leader, claimed responsibility for these acts, saying they were carried out in response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abdallah had been denied release on seven previous occasions since he became eligible for parole in 1999.

In November 2003, the local entity that grants parole in Pau, the southern city in which Abdullah is detained, gave the green light to one of Abdallah’s requests. But the minister of justice at the time, Dominique Perben, appealed the decision, calling the prisoner’s case “extremely serious”. Abdallah remained in prison.

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