SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS CONVICTION OF Al JAZEERA JOURNALIST
Allouni, one of 24 people on trial in Spain for terrorism-related crimes, was sentenced to seven years in prison on 26 September 2005. He was found guilty of collaborating with Al Qaeda. An earlier charge alleging Allouni was a member of Al Qaeda was dismissed. Allouni has denied all of the charges. His wife, Fatima Allouni, said she plans to appeal the ruling to Spain's constitutional court.
Allouni is the only journalist to have interviewed Osama bin Laden after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, reports IFJ. A Syrian by birth who has Spanish citizenship, he was first arrested by Spanish authorities in September 2003 after returning from Iraq, where he covered the U.S.-led invasion. Spanish prosecutors have accused Allouni of couriering funds from an Al-Qaeda supporter in Spain to collaborators in Afghanistan.
IFJ has expressed concern that the Spanish court ruling is a "punitive action" that could lead to self-censorship among journalists who report on security issues. "One consequence of this case may be that media and journalists will be reluctant to follow up stories involving organisations and groups that might be called 'terrorist'," argues IFJ.
RSF has called on Spanish authorities to be mindful of Allouni's health (he has a heart condition) while he remains in detention.
Visit these links:
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?index=3393&Language=EN
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=15137
- The Raging Bull: http://www.laweekly.com/news/news/the-raging-bull/213/
- BBC NewsNight Investigates Allouni Case: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/3139096.stm
- Inside Al-Jazeera: http://www.cjr.org/issues/2002/2/war-zednik.asp
(Image courtesy of Al-Ahram)