Freed Al Jazeera journalist returns to Doha

Tayseer Allouni ends seven years of detention in Spain on terrorism-related charges that he says were political.

Tayseer Allouni,
Allouni was accused of co-operating with a terrorist organisation [Al Jazeera]

Al Jazeera journalist Tayseer Allouni is now a free man after spending years in detention for a charge he says was political.

Allouni, the Syrian-born Spanish citizen, returned to the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday after a seven year imprisonment in Spain.

Spanish authorities said the journalist had collaborated with the al-Qaeda network. They accused him of being a financial courier for the group and charged him with “co-operating with a terrorist organisation”.

Allouni denied the charges, saying he was arrested only because he had interviewed Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader accused of being one of the main architects of the 9/11 attacks on the US.

A month after the 9/11 attacks, Allouni secured the exclusive interview with bin Laden.

He was later arrested and in 2005 sentenced to seven years in jail in Spain.

Allouni was later allowed to leave his cell for medical reasons but remained under a house arrest for the duration of his detention.

On Sunday on his return to Doha, where Al Jazeera is headquartered, Allouni said that his case was political.

“The Spanish media stood against me and they have their stance and view against Al Jazeera … not necessarily against me. They envy Al Jazeera and they fear it at the same,” he said.

“My case was political and it was clear to me. As for the politicians, we knew their motives and some of the judges that took my case served the interests of the politicians.”

As a journalist for Al Jazeera, Allouni found himself on the frontlines of the organisation’s coverage.

He was the bureau chief in Kabul during the war on Afghanistan, where he presided over the channel’s office when US forces bombed it.

In 2003 he escaped a second attack, this time on the channel’s Baghdad bureau, where he was stationed to cover the war in Iraq.

Allouni has always denied the charges against him.

The European Court of Human Rights decided on January 17, 2012, that the sentence of seven-year jail term handed down by the Spanish court against Allouni, over charges of collusion with a terror organisation, was not legal.

The European court considered only one out of seven counts presented by the defence team and decided it was enough to rule out the Spanish court’s verdict.

Source: Al Jazeera