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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Reporter denies Spain terror link
Tayseer Alouni
Tayseer Alouni was allowed bail on health grounds
Al-Jazeera television reporter Tayseer Alouni has denied charges of having close relations with the alleged leader of al-Qaeda in Spain.

Mr Alouni, who interviewed Osama Bin Laden before the 11 September 2001 attacks, is one of 24 suspects on trial for suspected al-Qaeda links.

Three of the suspects are charged with helping to plan the attacks on the US. All 24 deny the charges against them.

Mr Alouni also rejects claims he formed a group of Islamic indoctrination.

The prosecution says the reporter, who holds dual Syrian and Spanish citizenship, had an "intense and continuous" relationship with Immad Yarkas, known as Abu Dahdah, who is also on trial.

Denial

Mr Yarkas was arrested by Spanish authorities in November 2001 on suspicion of heading an al-Qaeda cell that allegedly provided funding and logistics for the people who planned the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

THE CHARGES
Jose Luis Galan - Allegedly filmed New York landmarks in 1997 for al-Qaeda. He is accused of 2,500 murders and belonging to a terrorist group
Immad Yarkas - Al-Qaeda's alleged leader in Spain, he is accused of 2,500 murders, belonging to a terrorist group and possessing counterfeit money
Driss Chebli - Allegedly helped al-Qaeda members involved in the 9/11 attacks. He is accused of 2,500 murders and belonging to a terrorist group
21 other defendants - Face charges including membership or association with a terrorist group, weapons possession, falsifying documents and fraud
All have said they are not guilty of the charges

Along with Moroccan-born Driss Chebli, he is said to have set up a meeting in June 2001 that was allegedly attended by at least one of the attack ringleaders, Mohamed Atta, who piloted one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers.

Mr Alouni, who was granted temporary bail for health reasons on Monday, is accused of using a posting in Afghanistan to distribute money to the militant Islamic network.

He told the court on Monday his relationship with Mr Yarkas was "never either intense or continual".

"We met just as Syrian nationals. I've always thought that he was a nice and polite man," he said.

'Recruitment centre'

He said he had no knowledge that Mr Yarkas was recruiting men to be trained as "mujahideen" in terrorist training camps.

Mr Alouni, 50, faces nine years in jail if convicted of the charges of belonging to the alleged Spanish al-Qaeda cell.

All the defendants in the trial are part of a group of 41 suspects indicted by the anti-terrorist judge Baltasar Garzon.

Judge Garzon says Spain was a key base for hiding, helping, recruiting and financing al-Qaeda members in the lead-up to the attacks on New York and Washington.


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