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Lawyers for Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam stop defending him

Frank Berton, a lawyer for the only surviving suspect in last November's attack in Paris, is to smoke before an interview in Lille, northern France, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. Lawyers Berton and Sven Mary said they've decided to stop representing Salah Abdeslam, who has chosen to remain silent in a protest against his prison conditions, including the 24-hour video surveillance of his cell. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Lawyers for the only surviving suspect in last November's attack in Paris say they will no longer defend him because he refuses to speak. Frank Berton and Sven Mary said they've decided to stop representing Salah Abdeslam, who has chosen to remain silent in a protest against his prison conditions, including the 24-hour video surveillance of his cell. Berton told a press conference on Wednesday that Abdeslam, who was arrested in Brussels in March and then transferred to France, was psychologically damaged by his detention at Fleury-Mérogis Prison.

I've been convinced for months that he is isolating and radicalizing himself. He is taking his video surveillance very badly. This is not blackmail; it's just the reality of his psychological and psychic state. The problem is related to his solitary confinement.

Frank Berton, French lawyer

According to Berton, Abdeslam was initially willing to speak, and the lawyer urged French authorities to soften their tough approach. Authorities hoped Abdeslam could provide information about the Islamic State group's strategies and networks and identify others who might have had a connection to the Nov. 13 attacks, which killed 130 people. The same network that attacked Paris struck again in Abdeslam's hometown of Brussels in March, days after he was arrested in his hideout. Abdeslam's role in the attacks has never been clear. The Paris prosecutor has said he was equipped as a suicide bomber that night but abandoned his plans and fled.

He is demonized because he is the only surviving suspect. There is no other inmate in France detained in the same conditions.

Berton
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