Al-Jazeera Reporter Among 10 Al-Qaida Suspects Jailed in Spain

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A journalist with the Arabic satellite television channel, Al-Jazeera, and ten others have been jailed in Spain ahead of a trial on charges of having links with Al-Qaeda. We speak with the chief editor of the Spanish magazine “La Clave.” [includes rush transcript]

A journalist with the Arabic satellite television channel, Al-Jazeera, and ten others have been jailed in Spain ahead of a trial on charges of having links with Al-Qaeda. The ten were charged last year and have been free on bail for over a year.

Prosecutors urged that they remain in custody until their February trial for fear they may flee after their appeals were rejected last week. Lawyers for the ten criticized the order, saying they had abided by the conditions of bail set over a year ago.

The ten are among more than 35 people–including Osama Bin Laden–indicted on charges of belonging to or collaborating with al-Qaeda by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon.

Al Jazeera reporter Tayseer Alouni, who holds dual Syrian and Spanish citizenship, was arrested Thursday evening in the southern city of Granada, where he lives. Alouni is one of Al-Jazeera”s best-known journalists, and has interviewed Osama bin Laden. He was first arrested on September 5, 2003 but was released on bail after telling the court he had heart trouble. Alouni is accused of using his reporting trips to Kabul in Afghanistan as a cover for his activities for providing money and information to the network.

The leading Spanish daily reports Alouni told the court “How am I going to run away? If I flee, I risk my entire journalistic career.” Lawyers said Alouni and another of the ten had health problems that could get worse in jail.

  • Inigo Garcia, Chief editor of the international section of the Spanish magazine “La Clave.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, our first guest is Inigo Garcia Chief Editor of the International Section of the Spanish Magazine La Clave. Welcome to Democracy Now!

INIGO GARCIA: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: And throughout these two days, Maria Carrion is back in action. She lives in Madrid and she will be doing the translating for us. It’s great to see you again, Maria.

MARIA CARRION: It’s great to see you.

AMY GOODMAN: Inigo Garcia, can you talk about these arrests, how significant are they? What evidence is there?

INIGO GARCIA: Yes. [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] Well it, hard to tell exactly what the news will be of the arrests. What is becoming clearer is that many, many arrests are being made around the world, not just here without really taking into account the presumption ever innocence.

AMY GOODMAN: What about this Al-Jazeera reporter?

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] I don’t really know about Alouni, but I have talked to people who have known him and interviewed him and we’ll see if the judicial investigations actually do tie him to anything to do with Al-Qaeda.

AMY GOODMAN: We know of people who have been held since September 11. We also know of this in the United States, who are held for years without charge. What about these people? They were charged over a year ago.

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] Well, I can give you a for instance of what happened when a Spanish citizen was arrested, and sent to Guantanamo 0and pressured the United States into releasing him. The initial idea was to try him here, but so far he’s free. He’s out on bail and you have to humanize these cases.

AMY GOODMAN: Bath czar garcon is a world-renowned judge here in Spain, known for bring the case against Pinochet in Chile. Now, he is the one who did the investigation into these men who have been arrested. What about that?

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] Judge bath czar garcon has got a very prominent role in these cases in Spain and the judicial history of Spain.

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] Not only is he known here for the Pinochet case, but in the 1990’s, he went after groups of drug traffickers that were a lot of concern here in Spain.

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] He’s also worked on the of anti-nationalist groups and has made many, many arrests and detentions of people associated with — accused of being associated with the anti-nationalism.

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] But we whether basically have to wait and see if these cases and these detentions — arrests actually bring forth enough evidence to determine the culpability of whether these were arbitrary arrests like we have seen in other places.

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] I also want to point to the example of a year ago in Barcelona, ten Pakistani citizens were arrested;

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] They were accused of making explosives, and preparing a terrorist attack.

INIGO GARCIA: [speaking Spanish]

MARIA CARRION: [translating] And with these Pakistani citizens in the end, the materials that they were accused of fabricating and making for explosives were actually detergent. It was normal detergent. We have to see that sometimes these arrests are arbitrary and we also have to make sure that the Spanish people know, because a lot of Spanish people are not aware that many people targeted are just simply immigrants who are just falsely accused.

AMY GOODMAN: I want thank you very much for being with us, Inigo Garcia, Chief Editor of the Spanish Magazine, La Clave.

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