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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Spanish judge charges Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden's whereabouts are still unknown

A Spanish judge has formally charged 35 men, including Osama Bin Laden and an Arab televison journalist, with involvement in the 11 September attacks on the United States.

High Court Judge Baltasar Garzon called for Interpol to arrest the al-Qaeda leader, whose exact whereabouts are unknown, and extradite him to Spain where some evidence suggests, he said, the 2001 attacks were planned.

Al-Jazeera journalist Tayseer Alouni, who interviewed Osama Bin Laden shortly after 11 September, is among 12 of those charged who have already been arrested by the Spanish authorities.

Judge Garzon, in a 692-page ruling, said Spain served "as a place or base for resting, preparation, doctrinising, support and financing" of al-Qaeda.

Also charged was Imad Eddim Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, suspected by authorities of heading an al-Qaeda cell in Spain and arrested in November 2001.

Reuters news agency said Syrian-born Alouni, who holds Spanish citizenship and is being held without bail pending trial, is accused of forming part of al Qaeda since 1995 and continuing to do so after he joined Al-Jazeera in 2000, using a posting in Afghanistan to distribute money to the militant Islamic network.

Al-Jazeera insists Mr Alouni is innocent and has accused the United States and Israel of inciting Spain to incriminate him.

Judge Garzon is known as a highly-principled investigator, who has been involved in several high profile cases in recent years.

Most notably, he spearheaded the campaign to extradite the former Chilean military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, from London to Spain for human rights abuses.

He has also requested the extradition of 46 former officials of the Argentine military regimes of 1976-1983 in relation to the deaths of Spaniards in Argentina during that time.




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