France Denounces Israel for Holding Arab Reporter

France has protested Israel’s seizure of a Lebanese journalist who was working for Agence France-Presse in southern Lebanon.

Ali dia, 40, was arrested by Israeli forces June 13 and taken to Israel for interrogation after security officials from the Israel-allied South Lebanon Army summoned him to their headquarters in Marjayoun.

“The arrest of a journalist because of his professional activity would clearly be a serious breach of press freedom, a breach we could only condemn,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt.

Israel said it was holding Dia on Suspicion of aiding the Islamic fundamentalist Hezbollah group.

Hezbollah denied having any links to the reporter.

An AFP spokesperson said Dia, a Shi’its Muslim based in the southern Lebanon port city of Sidon, had not been heard from since his arrest.

He also works for Beirut-based Future Television, which is owned by Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the Lebanese leftist daily As-Safeer.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Bouez decried Dia’s arrest, calling it “as unjustified terrorist act” against the international press that proves “the complete lack of respect for freedoms and human rights by Israel.”

The international press watchdog group Reporters without Borders called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release Dia and ensure that he be allowed to continue his work.

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