The following resolution was adopted by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers Council meeting on 25 October 2020: 

IADL RESOLUTION CALLING FOR THE LIBERATION OF GEORGES IBRAHIM ABDALLAH

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) is a non-governmental organization with consultative status in ECOSOC and UNESCO. Founded in 1946 to promote the goals of the United Nations Charter, IADL and its affiliated organizations throughout the world have consistently fought to uphold international law, promote human rights and address threats to international peace and security. From its inception, IADL members have protested racism, colonialism, and economic and political injustice wherever they occur.

IADL urges the immediate release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah and his repatriation to Lebanon. Georges Abdallah has been jailed since 24 October 1984 in France, and he begins his 37th year in French prison in Lannemezan as IADL convenes its Council meeting.

Born in 1951 in Lebanon and a teacher by profession, Georges Abdallah became active in the Palestinian movement based in the refugee camps in Lebanon and was also involved in the resistance to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982. He was a co-founder of the Revolutionary Armed Factions of Lebanon (FARL), which aimed to resist Israeli invasions of Lebanon and occupation of the South, as well as U.S. and other Western powers’ support for these actions.

In 1984, Georges Abdallah was arrested in France on charges of holding a false passport, although the document was legally issued by Algerian authorities. He was initially sentenced to four years in prison after a weapon was found in a FARL residence.

After the discovery that this weapon had been used in 1982 in the assassination of the U.S. and Israeli military attaches in Paris, Georges Abdallah was then charged with complicity in murder. His trial was marked by profound irregularities, including the reported involvement of one of his lawyers with the French intelligence agency (DST) and a media campaign that falsely linked violent attacks taking place in France to Georges Abdallah’s brothers. Indeed, Yves Bonnet, the former head of the DST, has called for Abdallah’s release since 2012.

While the prosecutor in this case requested a sentence of 10 years, a private lawyer representing the United States participated in the proceedings and argued for a life sentence. Upon Georges Abdallah’s conviction, the judge ordered him sentenced to life in prison. Since that time, he has been jailed in Lannemezan Prison.

He has been eligible for release since 1999 and has repeatedly appealed for parole and his repatriation to Lebanon. On two occasions, first in 2003 and again in 2013, the French judiciary has approved his request for release. However, on both occasions, his return to Lebanon was blocked by U.S. intervention, including documented complaints from U.S. Secretaries of State Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton, as well as the direct intervention of French political officials in the judicial process in order to block the implementation of his release and repatriation.

In January 2013, then-Interior Minister of France, Manuel Valls, refused to sign the deportation order necessary for Georges Abdallah’s return to Lebanon. Thus, he has since remained imprisoned in Lannemezan, despite his long-time eligibility for release and two judicial decisions in favor of his parole. His release has been blocked for political reasons by the United States and by high-ranking French officials intervening to block the implementation of these decisions.

There is a growing movement to support the release of Georges Abdallah, including a number of social justice organizations and political movements in France, along with a strong campaign for his release in Lebanon. On 24 October 2020, hundreds marched in Lannemezan and in Beirut for Georges Abdallah’s immediate liberation. In France, elected officials, members of the National Assembly and the Ligue des droits de l’Homme, among others, have called for his release, while the municipalities of Grenay and Callone-Ricouart have made him an honorary citizen.

As the COVID-19 pandemic puts lives at risk inside prisons, Georges Abdallah’s liberation is more urgent than ever and he is now one of the longest-held political prisoners in Europe.

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers joins these calls and demands the immediate release of Georges Abdallah and his repatriation to his homeland, Lebanon. We further deplore the ongoing intervention of U.S. officials and French political authorities to block the course of justice in this case.

25 October 2020