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Spain arrests Al-Jazeera reporter

From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman

Police allege Allouni used his status as a journalist to get an interview with Osama bin Laden.
Police allege Allouni used his status as a journalist to get an interview with Osama bin Laden.

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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Police have arrested a correspondent for Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV at his home in southern Spain accusing him of having links to the al Qaeda terrorist group.

Authorities believe that Tayseer Allouni -- who interviewed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden nearly two years ago -- provided support for two suspected members of the group, a Spanish court official told CNN.

Allouni is expected to appear in Madrid's National Court on Monday, the official said.

The arrest warrant was issued by Judge Baltasar Garzon, who has been leading the investigation in Spain into alleged members of al Qaeda and other militant Islamic groups, Allouni's wife Fatima Hamed Layasi told CNN.

The warrant accuses Allouni of having links to "important members" of al Qaeda and using his status as a journalist to get an interview with Osama bin Laden in October 2001, Hamed Layasi said in an telephone interview from her home in Granada, where the arrest took place.

Authorities believe Allouni provided support for Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, who was arrested on November 13, 2001, and is thought to have been an al Qaeda ringleader in Spain, the court official said.

Allouni is also suspected of providing aid to Mohamed Bahiah, alias Abu Kalhed, a suspected al Qaeda fugitive thought to be in Afghanistan, the official said.

Several dozen suspected Islamic terrorists have been detained in Spain since the September 11, 2001 attacks, and some have been linked to that attack. Others have been released on bail or for lack of evidence. No one has gone to trial.

"A group of police came with a judicial order at noon today and searched the home," for about three hours while Allouni was present, before taking him away, Hamed Layasi said.

Asked if the charges were true, Hamed Layasi said, "Surely it is not so."

She said she would soon hire a lawyer to defend her husband.

Hamed Layasi said the warrant says that Allouni "took advantage of his status as a journalist to get an interview on October 7, 2001 with Osama bin Laden, where bin Laden called for a holy war."

Police took several books and newspapers in Arabic and two computers -- one belonging to Allouni's son and the other belonging to a production company that Hamed Layasi identified as Andalusia Directo, which she said provides programming to Al-Jazeera.

Since the September 11 attacks, Al-Jazeera has aired numerous video and audio recordings purported by have been made by bin Laden.


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