French national alleges torture in Syria

A French man of Lebanese origin has launched legal action against Syria's intelligence services, which he says detained and tortured him during a recent visit to the country, a human rights group said Tuesday. The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, or FIDH, said in a statement that it had jointly filed a complaint with the man at a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. The man, identified as Charles F., was detained at the Jdeidet Yabous border post as he attempted to cross into Lebanon during a trip in September, the statement said. The man requested that his surname not be released because he feared for the safety of relatives in Lebanon, FIDH president Patrick Baudouin said. Apparently mistaken for a man with the same name, Charles F. underwent a "rather violent" interrogation before being taken to the Syrian capital of Damascus, where he was handed over to military agents and held 10 days in a lockup identified as Detention Center 235, the statement said. During the detention, the man was hit with electrical cables, kicked and made to watch the torture of other prisoners, FIDH said. He was held in a small, dark cell with no ventilation that he shared with about 50 other prisoners before being released Sept. 15, it said. Drawing on French law and international conventions, the rights group said it appeared "incontestable" that the man was the victim of an arrest, arbitrary detention, torture and bad treatment at the hands of Syrian authorities.