BEIRUT: Supporters of George Abdallah Sunday resumed protests outside the French Embassy in Lebanon calling for the immediate deportation of the Lebanese citizen held in France.
Protesters gathered outside the Mathaf area in Beirut and threw eggs, oranges and tomatoes at the embassy’s doors, shouting slogans calling for Abdallah’s release.
Security forces were heavily deployed at the scene to prevent protesters from breaking into the embassy.
“The security forces are trying to pressure us to get out of here, but we won’t leave,” said one of the protesters.
Security forces did not take any direct action against the demonstrators, although some officers approached the activists and asked them to stop throwing eggs at the embassy.
Demonstrators began an open sit-in near the French Embassy in Beirut Monday, and set up a tent there, to protest the delay in Abdallah’s release, which was expected to take place Monday.
Last week, a French court ordered his release on the condition that he was deported. However, the French Interior Ministry surprisingly rejected his deportation order, resulting in the postponement of a decision on whether to release him to Jan. 28.
Abdallah supporters also carried out a number of sit-ins against offices of the French Cultural Institute across Lebanon over the last week.
Hezbollah politburo member Mahmoud Qomati was among the protesters and said his group supports the call for Abdallah’s freedom.
“We support the case until the end and we support the ongoing peaceful protests to press for Abdallah’s release,” Qomati said.
Qomati said that these protest movements serve to reveal the reality of pressures exerted by the United States against France to keep Abdallah behind bars and question the independence of the judiciary in the west.
“Shame on the French state and its renowned history of subjection to the decisions of the United States,” said Qomati. “How can they claim the independence of judiciary in the West while they hinder the release of Abdallah?” he asked.
The Hezbollah official added that the sit-ins also serve to embarrass the French administration and pressure it to take a stance against the will of the United States.
France has urged patience over Abdallah’s case after a number of Lebanese officials contacted or met French ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli asking for Abdallah’s deportation to be sped up.
Abdallah was arrested by French authorities in 1984 and sentenced to life in prison by a French court in 1987 for the 1982 murders of American Lt. Col. Charles Ray and Israeli diplomat Yaakov Bar-Simantov in Paris.
Abdallah is eligible to parole since 1999.
His family and supporters argue that accusations against him are fabricated and that he is still in prison because of U.S. and Israeli pressure.