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Spain6 October 2006

Al-Jazeera journalist allowed to serve out sentence at home on health grounds

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed a humanitarian decision by the Spanish authorities to let Al-Jazeera presenter Tayssir Allouni serve the rest of his seven-year prison sentence under house arrest because of his declining health. Allouni was convicted in September 2005 of “collaborating” with Al-Qaeda.

The decision to let him go home was taken on 3 October. Allouni has already rejoined his family in the southern city of Grenada, where he has to wear an electronic bracelet that allows the police to keep track of his location.

“Allouni has had heart problems for a long time and his continuing imprisonment was becoming a problem of some urgency,” the press freedom organisation said. “We had expressed our concern on several occasions and we hail this decision by the Spanish judicial authorities, who have shown themselves to be vigilant and humane by letting him go home.”

Allouni, who is famous for interviewing Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, was arrested for the first time in Spain in September 2003, and was released a month later on health grounds. He was re-arrested and placed in pre-trial detention in November 2004. He was freed again during his trial but remained under judicial control. His conviction and sentence was upheld by the supreme court on 1 June.

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