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Al-Jazeera says Israeli court frees journalist

Sept. 26, 2011 9:42 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 27, 2011 12:39 P.M.)
DOHA (AFP) -- An Israeli military court decided on Monday to release Al-Jazeera journalist Samer Allawi who was detained on August 10, the Doha-based news channel said.

Allawi, a Palestinian, is Al-Jazeera's Kabul bureau chief and was arrested by Israeli security officials as he tried to cross from Jordan into the West Bank after a family visit.

An Israeli military court in the northern West Bank had accused Allawi of being a member of Hamas and of having "contacts" with the military wing of the Islamist movement, which rules the Gaza Strip.

"I did not hide that from the very beginning," Allawi told the channel on Monday. "I was frank with them, because as a journalist I have (also) met leaders of the Taliban and others."

Allawi's arrest came amid deteriorating relations between Israel and Qatar in recent months.

A spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry said last month that Israel was angry at Qatar for its support for Hamas.

Qatar technically severed ties with Israel during Operation Cast Lead, Israel's massive 22-day assault on Gaza which began at the end of December 2008, ordering its head of the delegation to leave Qatar while allowing its offices to remain open.

According to a statement by Israel's Shin Bet internal security service, Allawi admitted during interrogation being recruited by Hamas in 1993 while in Pakistan, and in 2000 agreed to "military and organisational" activities on behalf of Hamas, using journalism as a cover.

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