The Anatolia news agency reports that the Istanbul state security court on Monday charged the man, identified as Baki Yigit, for "membership to an illegal organization", an offence which carries a prison term of up to five years.

The suspect, who was remanded in custody, told prosecutors that he met with al-Qaida leader Usama bin Laden during a seven-month stay in Afghanistan prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, Anatolia quoted unnamed sources as saying.

But he said that he parted ways with al-Qaida after returning to Turkey because of disagreements, and denied any role in the Istanbul bombings, which claimed 62 lives, including the four suicide bombers.

Leading member

Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said last week the suspect was a leading member of an al-Qaida grouping in Turkey, which is held responsible for the two sets of car bomb attacks on November 15 and 20.

AnIstanbul synagogue was the
first building to be bombed 

The Istanbul police said in a written statement earlier Monday that a senior suspect was detained in the city last Thursday as part of their probe into the attacks.

During his interrogation, the suspect said "he has met with the leader of an international terrorist organization and the head of its military wing in a foreign country and received orders for attacks in our country," the statement said, without mentioning names.

Received money

The suspect also confessed to receiving money from the organization to finance plans for the recruitment of militants and their training in military camps, the statement said.

The operation which led to the capture of the suspect resulted also in the seizure of a laptop, dozens of CDs and diskettes as well as nine computer hard discs, it added.

Another 45 people, among them the alleged leader of Al-Qaida cells in Turkey, have so far been charged in connection with the bombings, which hit two synagogues, the British consulate and the HSBC bank.

Turkish authorities said in December they had dismantled the group behind the attacks and that police were hunting for half a dozen other suspects who were thought to have fled abroad.