An Al Jazeera journalist has been jailed for seven years by the Spanish Supreme Court for alleged links to terrorist group Al Qaeda.
According to the International Federation of Journalists, the jailing of Tayseer Allouni is a “regrettable confirmation that journalists reporting on security issues or on organisations branded as terrorist could find themselves before the courts accused of collaboration with violent extremists.”
Al-Jazeera claims the conviction was based on flimsy and circumstantial evidence.
According to the IFJ, Allouni was arrested in November 2004 on charges alleging he had links to Al Qaeda. The Spanish High court found him guilty in 2005 of collaborating with a terrorist group, but cleared him of being an Al Qaeda member.
IFJ general secretary Aidan White said: ‘There is no doubt that the seven years jail term is punitive given the nature of the evidence against him. We are surprised that the sentence has been allowed to stand while one of the other defendants Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas had his jail term reduced to 12 years from 27 years.
“It is a likely 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’.
“Now reporters will have to think twice about who they are talking to when preparing their reports. This verdict could have the effect of closing down sources of information that journalists need to get the facts behind the propaganda that dominates the so-called war on terrorism.”
According to the IFJ, family and colleagues of Allouni believe he has suffered as a result of his interview with Osama Bin Laden, which took place after the September 11 attacks.