Press group shocked by Spain bid to jail journalist

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The El Mundo journalist is charged for revealing the name of a protected witness linked to the March 2004 train bombings.

Madrid – The International Press Institute said Monday it was "shocked" that Spanish prosecutors had demanded that a journalist be slapped with a three-year jail term for allegedly revealing state secrets.

Prosecutors also demanded that the deputy editor of centre-right daily newspaper El Mundo, Antonio Rubio, be banned for practicing journalism for three years for revealing the name of a protected witness linked to the March 2004 train bombings which killed 191 people.

"We are shocked that such charges are being brought against a journalist in Spain, and call on the prosecutor to drop them immediately," IPI director David Dadge said in a statement.

"Moreover, the move to ban a journalist coming as it does from a prosecutor is quite simply deplorable in a democratic nation and EU member," he added.

Rubio is accused of revealing in an article published in May 2005 the name of a protected witness who warned Spanish authorities more than a year before the train bombings that a group of Islamic radicals were planning an attack on Spanish soil.

The article contained lengthy excerpts from internal memos that were leaked from Spain's anti-terror unit.

The named witness, who identified one of the co-plotters of the attacks, Rabei Osman, filed a complaint against El Mundo and Rubio in March 2007 over the article.

An Italian court jailed Osman for eight years in 2006 for his role in the train bombings, Europe's worst Islamist attack.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by militants who said they acted on behalf of Al-Qaeda to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq.

AFP / Expatica

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