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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Indonesia to get access to Hambali
Hambali
Hambali is being interrogated in US custody
The United States has told the Indonesian police that they will be allowed to question a top Asian terror suspect, known as Hambali, who is in US custody at a secret location.

Hambali is believed to be the operations chief for the Muslim militant group Jemaah Islamiah, which has been blamed for the Bali bombings - which killed more than 200 people last year - and a series of other attacks including on the Jakarta Marriott hotel earlier this month.

Soon after he was captured in a joint Thai-US police operation in central Thailand on 11 August, the Jakarta authorities said they wanted to him to stand trial in Indonesia.

However, there is no extradition treaty between the US and Indonesia.

But the US had agreed "in principle" to allow the Indonesian authorities to interrogate Hambali, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa told the BBC - although he did not know when it would take place.

US ambassador Ralph Boyce had assured police chief General Da'i Bachtiar on Wednesday that Indonesian officers would be given direct access to Hambali, Mr Natalegawa said.

Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have also all expressed an interest in talking to Hambali - an Indonesian whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin.

Jemaah Islamiah is believed to be striving for a pan-South East Asian Islamic state.

It has been linked to al-Qaeda, and Hambali is suspected of acting as Osama Bin Laden's point man in South East Asia.

Cleric on trial

The suspected spiritual leader of the group, an Indonesian cleric called Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, is currently on trial for treason.

His verdict is due next Tuesday.

Mr Ba'asyir has repeatedly insisted that JI does not exist, and has claimed that his trial is a Western plot to destroy Islam in Indonesia.

He told the judges in his trial on Wednesday that they would face the "wrath of god" if they found him guilty.


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