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Key Paris Attacks Suspect Salah Abdeslam Extradited To France

French and Belgian officials say they have extradited Salah Abdeslam to France. Abdeslam, a key suspect in last November's Paris attacks, was captured in March in Brussels after a months-long manhunt.

Abdeslam, 26, arrived in France at 9:05 a.m. local time, according to a statement from the French prosecutor's office. He's expected to appear before a French judge today.

Salah Abdeslam, in a photo released by Belgium Federal Police.
/ AP
Salah Abdeslam, in a photo released by Belgium Federal Police.

This transfer was expected. As we reported at the time of his arrest in Brussels, French President Francois Hollande immediately said France would ask Belgium to extradite Abdeslam.

"Abdeslam should be interrogated in France and be judged in France," Hollande told reporters last month.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston tells our Newscast unit that Belgian authorities had said that after charging Abdeslam and questioning him, "they would turn him over to the French." She adds: "The French want him on terrorism charges related to the Nov. 13th attacks and clearly want to question him for intelligence reasons."

Abdeslam is believed to be the only surviving participant of the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people. He had resisted extradition to France, as we reported.

Just four days after his arrest, militants attacked the Brussels airport and a subway station, killing 32 people and wounding more than 300.

Abdeslam will now be held in "isolation" in an unnamed prison in the Paris area, French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said, according to The Associated Press. He adds that Abdeslam will be monitored by guards "specially adapted 'for people reputed to be dangerous.' "

According to his lawyer Frank Berton, Abdeslam wants to talk: "That means be judged for facts and acts that he committed but not for what he did not commit simply because he is the only survivor of the attacks," Berton says, the wire service reports.

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
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