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Suspected al Qaeda operative is released, but must check in

By Al Goodman, CNN
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Fri September 23, 2011
The suspect is required to report daily to the police station nearest his home in the island of Mallorca (file photo).
The suspect is required to report daily to the police station nearest his home in the island of Mallorca (file photo).
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The suspect must report daily to police, a court spokeswoman said
  • The judge's order requires him to report daily to the police station nearest his home
  • The Cuban national was arrested on the resort island of Mallorca
  • Spanish authorities say he was attempting to recruit for al Qaeda

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- A Cuban man arrested in Spain this week for alleged ties to al Qaeda was released Friday on provisional liberty, but must report daily to police, a National Court spokeswoman told CNN.

The 24-year-old suspect, identified only by his initials J.E.F.M., was released after a 45-minute closed-door arraignment before Judge Fernando Andreu at the National Court, which handles terrorism cases.

The court-appointed defense lawyer, Francisco Fernandez Castan, told CNN after the hearing that he argued for all charges to be dropped, saying that police allegations the Cuban had incited terrorism through internet postings was in fact just an example of "freedom of expression."

But the judge maintained the charges of alleged links to al Qaeda, while police further analyze the suspect's various portable computers, external hard drives and USB memory sticks that were seized at the time of his arrest on Spain's Mallorca island Tuesday, said the court spokeswoman, who by custom is not identified.

The suspect was accompanied by two uniformed police officers outside the judge's chambers, and at times was handcuffed. He wore a black T-shirt, dark ankle-high blue jeans and gray sandals.

The judge's order requires him to report daily to the police station nearest his home in Cala Rajada, on the northeast side of Mallorca, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the island's capital, Palma de Mallorca.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that he was wanted for alleged membership in al Qaeda and had 1,120 radical videos on the Internet, mostly produced by him, and that he used the internet for the radical indoctrination of other individuals

Authorities have been investigating the suspect since last year, the ministry statement said. Civil Guards detained him for allegedly recruiting and indoctrinating others for the terrorist group and for distributing public messages aimed at provoking terrorist attacks, the statement added.

Spain's Balearic archipelago in the Mediterranean is a popular tourist resort for Spaniards and others from Europe, with large contingents of Britons and Germans visiting or residing there.

Since the Madrid train bombings of 2004 that killed 191 people and wounded 1,800 others, Spanish police have arrested more than 400 suspected al Qaeda militants or collaborators, the Interior Ministry website says. Most have been of North African or Middle Eastern origin, with a few from Latin America.

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