US presses Israel to free teen citizen

Washington -The United States on Thursday renewed calls on Israel to free a 15-year-old US citizen of Palestinian heritage who has been held for five weeks for alleged rock-throwing.

A US consular officer on 31 July visited Mohammed Abu Nie, who has dual American and Palestinian citizenship and was arrested in east Jerusalem on 3 July, the state department said.

"This 15-year old has now been held for five weeks in Israeli custody, and [we] are gravely concerned over the prolonged detention of this US citizen and child", state department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters.

The state department said that the boy was charged with rock-throwing, carrying a knife and leading a protest amid the outbreak of tension in the region.

In an earlier public statement, the United States voiced concern that the teenager has been mistreated in custody.

Last month an Israeli court allowed another Palestinian American teenager, who was allegedly beaten in police custody, to return home to Florida.

That teenager, Tariq Abu Khader, is the cousin of Mohammed Abu Khder, a 16-year-old Palestinian whose kidnapping and murder by suspected Jewish extremists sparked outrage and fuelled the latest violence.