PARIS (AP) — Police detained and questioned an 8-year-old boy from the south of France who claimed to support the men who attacked the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, drawing criticism Thursday that France's measures to prevent people from defending terrorism have gone overboard.
Dozens of people have been arrested and accused of defending terrorism since the attacks, with some already drawing yearslong prison terms in special expedited court proceedings. But the child from the southern city of Nice appears to be the youngest by far.
The boy declared "The French must be killed. I am with the terrorists. The Muslims did well, and the journalists got what they deserved," Fabienne Lewandowski, deputy director for public security in the Alpes-Maritimes region, told BFM television. She said the child also refused to take part in the national minute of silence for the victims on Jan. 9.
The storming of the newspaper offices left 12 people dead and launched three days of terror in the Paris region that killed a total of 20 people, including the gunmen. The school director brought a complaint against the child on Jan. 21 and he was questioned that day with his father and a lawyer present.
"The reason we questioned him was to determine what could have influenced, what could have driven this child to say something like this," Lewandowski said. "It's a shame that it happened in a formal questioning, but given what he said it was necessary to go further than usual."
Sefen Guez Guez, a lawyer for the family, said the decision to question the child at a police station that day shows a "collective hysteria."
"An 8-year-old does not belong in a police station. This is disproportionate and completely unreal," he said.