Samuels noted that "'Carlos the Jackal' was condemned by a Paris court in 1997 for the murder of two French policemen and is still held in French custody. He was implicated in numerous other terrorist atrocities."

The Centre considered President Chavez' statement "as a new threshold in the heroization of terrorism and, certainly, a direct intervention in the independence of the French judiciary, impugning its credibility."

"We call on France to vigorously protest President Chavez' statement and the message he transmits to the youth of the Americas and worldwide", concluded Samuels.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is an international Jewish human rights organization with a worldwide membership of 440,000. Established in 1977, with headquarters in Los Angeles, it draws the lessons of the Holocaust to the analysis of contemporary issues of prejudice and discrimination. The Centre is an NGO in consultative status to the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Organization of American States and the Council of Europe.

For further information, please contact Dr Shimon Samuels at +33.609.7701.58