20 September 2004
MADRID - Spain and the United States plan to sign an agreement to share information on Islamic militants before the end of the year, the Spanish attorney general's office said Monday.
The deal was conceived after US officials visited Spain after the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington to ask for information and gained momentum after the Madrid train bombings in March in which 191 people were killed, a spokesman for the attorney general said.
The deal will cover only cooperation between prosecutors and not police, unlike a recent agreement with France to allow police to gather information in each other's countries.
"There is an intention to establish an agreement for judicial cooperation between Spain and the United States against Islamic terrorism," the spokesman said.
The planned agreement backs the government's agreement that Madrid and Washington continue to cooperate closely on fighting terror.
And it comes despite US displeasure over Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's decision, a day after he took office in April, to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq.
Investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon has been investigating al Qaeda cells in Spain for years and last year charged 35 people, including Osama Bin Laden, with belonging to al Qaeda.
Garzon says the final planning for the September 11 attacks was carried out in Spain in the summer of 2001.
Another judge who is leading the investigation into the Madrid attacks says that the suspected bombers were a group of Islamic radicals operating in the name of al Qaeda.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news
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