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U.S. 'gravely concerned' about arrest of American teenager in Israel

15-year-old U.S. citizen Mohamed Abu Nie has been in Israeli custody for more than three weeks after his arrest at a protest in East Jerusalem. The U.S. Department of State said it is "gravely concerned about the detention of an American citizen child," and called for a "speedy resolution to this case."
By JC Finley Follow @JC_Finley Contact the Author   |   July 29, 2014 at 11:28 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- On Monday, the U.S. Department of State confirmed that a 15-year-old U.S. citizen is being detained by Israeli authorities.

Mohamed Abu Nie, who also holds Palestinian citizenship, was arrested on July 3 at a protest in East Jersualem's Shuafat neighborhood. He faces charges of throwing rocks, attacking Israeli police, leading protests, and possession of a knife.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that "we are certainly gravely concerned about the detention of an American citizen child."

Psaki noted that the American embassy in Tel Aviv is providing consular assistance to the teen, explaining "our role is to ensure he's being afforded due process under local laws and international standards, and obviously we're providing all consular access and we'll continue to be engaged."

Imprisoned for 27 days, the 15-year-old did not immediately identify himself as a U.S. citizen to Israeli authorities, delaying outreach by the State Department. "So obviously, as soon as we learned that, we contacted Israeli authorities to schedule a consular visit," Psaki said.

A U.S. consular officer from the American embassy in Tel Aviv visited the teenager on July 17 and attended his hearing on July 22. Consular officers are also in contact with his family.

"Considering his age," Psaki told reporters Monday, "we are calling for a speedy resolution to this case."

Mohamed Abu Nie's arrest follows a similarly high profile arrest and detention of another 15-year-old Palestinian American. Tariq Khdeir, from Tampa, Florida, was reportedly severely beaten while in Israeli police custody earlier this month. Khdeir was released on July 6.

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