Live

Watch CBSN Live

France cops detain boy, 8, over "terrorist" remarks

PARIS -- 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 years-long 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 in early January.

Parisians debate limits to freedom of expression

As CBS Radio News correspondent Elaine Cobbe reported, across France, an estimated 200 students refused to stand in silence when the call came in their schools.

While few defended the killings, some students said they were angry that the newspaper had printed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, and so believed the murdered cartoonists did not merit respect. The refusals shocked many teachers, and sparked lively debate among students -- and even a few tussles.

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.