Dutch probe continues into suspected plane plot

1st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two Yemenis arrested in Amsterdam on suspicion of terrorism will appear before a judge on Thursday, a Dutch prosecution spokesman said.

"They will appear before an examining judge on Thursday," prosecution spokesman Ernst Koelman told AFP on Wednesday. The men were arrested early Monday after a flight from Chicago. US security had found a mobile phone taped to a bottle in their luggage.

The judge would decide whether to free or charge the men, or extend the investigation period.

"If the prosecution needs more time, it can ask the judge for an extra three days" during which the men would remain in detention, said Koelman.

"We have three days to complete the initial investigation, and that ends tomorrow (Thursday)," he said, declining to give any details of the investigation, which he said was "ongoing".

Dutch prosecutors said they were holding the men, identified by US media as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al-Soofi, of Detroit, Michigan, and Hezam al-Murisi, on suspicion of involvement in a "terrorist" plot.

They said the men were arrested "on the basis of information provided by the US authorities", who have themselves since cautioned against "jumping to any conclusions".

Dutch newspapers speculated Wednesday that the arrests may have been a misunderstanding.

"Investigating sources say that the suspects do not even know each other," said the popular daily, Telegraaf.

Lawyer Klaas-Arjen Krikke, who represents one of the men, told the newspaper that the authorities had no proof of wrongdoing.

"I understand from the United States that nobody is impressed by the 'evidence'," Krikke was reported as saying. "I cannot imagine that there will be a prosecution in the Netherlands."

The men appear to have been travelling to the Yemeni capital Sanaa when they were arrested.

US authorities initially raised concerns because luggage with unusual items apparently belonging to Soofi ended up on a plane bound for Washington Dulles airport, while Soofi was on the flight to Amsterdam.

The luggage contained mobile phones taped together, and one taped to a plastic bottle.

© 2010 AFP

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