BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati called the French envoy to Lebanon Monday over the delay in sending Lebanese citizen George Abdallah back home, a statement by Mikati’s press office said.
“Mikati called the French ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli demanding an explanation about the reasons behind the delay in releasing the Lebanese citizen held in French prisons George Abdallah,” the statement said.
Abdallah, 61, has recently obtained a pardon by a French court and was supposed to return to Lebanon Monday. However, his procedures reportedly got postponed until Jan. 28.
Mikati said that there was no excuse for the delay in Abdallah’s departure and urged France to set him free.
“The delay in Abdallah’s release is completely unjustified and goes against his civil rights,” said Mikati.
“The relevant French authorities should release him imminently to come back to his homeland and join his family,” he added.
Abdallah, a leftist militant, was arrested in 1984 and later convicted by a French court of the 1982 killing in Paris of Israeli diplomat Yaakov Bar-Simantov and Lt. Col. Charles Ray, an American military attache.
Abdallah was also implicated in the attempted assassination of U.S. Consul General Robert Homme in Strasbourg in 1984.
According to Mikati’s statement, the Cabinet has been closely following up the release of Abdallah and waiting for his homecoming.
“Lebanon’s Cabinet has been following up on the issue and was preparing to receive Abdallah once he gets back home,” the prime minister said.
Activists and supporters of Abdallah have been staging a sit-in outside the French mission in Lebanon since Monday afternoon and have threatened to continue until Abdallah returns home.