Media reports in Istanbul, the commercial capital, said the nine arrested have been charged with membership of and aiding and abetting an "illegal organisation".

 

The semi-state Anatolian news agency said the court had charged the nine people in the early hours of Tuesday after a lengthy interrogation of the suspects.

   

The suspects include relatives of the bombers, all of whom came from Bingol, a stronghold of hardline Islamists in Turkey's impoverished and mainly Kurdish southeast near the border with Iran.

 

Released

   

State security court officials told reporters on Monday evening that four of 16 people sent to the court had been released after giving testimony to prosecutors.

 

The nine, who are being held in custody, are suspected of helping the men who drove truck bombs at the British consulate and the offices of London-based banking giant HSBC on 20 November, killing at least 28 people and injuring 450 more.

 

Groups apparently linked to Usama bin Ladin's al-Qaida network have claimed responsibility for the attacks on the consulate and the Turkey headquarters of the London-based HSBC Bank.

  

The attacks came five days after similar bombings of two synagogues in the old heart of the city which killed 25 and wounded 300.