Dozens of activists demonstrated near the French embassy in Beirut Sunday to denounce the latest delays in the case of imprisoned Lebanese leftist Georges Ibrahim Abdallah.
More than 50 demonstrators rallied early Sunday afternoon, after a French court postponed a hearing to discuss Abdallah’s parole Thursday, more than six weeks after he was due to be released.
Abdallah, 61, was due to be released on January 14 after serving 28 years in French prison over his alleged involvement in the 1984 killings an American military office and an Israeli diplomat.
A court granted Abdallah parole on 21 November 2012 in a ruling that was upheld only days before his scheduled release.
But France’s interior minister refused to sign Abdallah’s extradition order to repatriate him to Lebanon on the morning of his anticipated release, prompting accusations that France had capitulated to American and Israeli pressure.
“Freedom for Georges Abdallah,” the crowd chanted as Lebanese security forces stood guard, having blocked off a portion of Damascus Road to prevent demonstrators from moving closer towards the French mission.
Halfway through the protest, a makeshift wooden cage was wheeled in as part of a project by Lebanese-Palestinian artist Kassem Istanbouli to denounce Abdallah’s continued imprisonment.
The hearing was pushed to March 20 and a decision regarding Abdallah’s case is expected to be announced the next day, although an organizer for the protest warned that another postponement was likely.
Abdallah supporters have already planned further demonstrations both before the hearing and after, depending on the outcome. Activists have also discussed re-launching a sit-in camp outside the embassy similar to the one assembled in January.
After Thursday’s decision, Lebanon’s embassy in France called the judge involved in Abdallah’s case to affirm the country’s commitment to his liberation. The organizer said he saw this unprecedented step as a “good indicator” that the tide was turning in Abdallah’s favor.