DOHA (Reuters) - Arabic television channel Al Jazeera said on Friday Spanish police had arrested one of its most renowned war correspondents on charges of belonging to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
Al Jazeera said police detained Tayseer Alouni, who shot to fame in the Arab world covering the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan and then the Iraq war, at his home in Granada in southern Spain.
It said Alouni and his wife were Spanish citizens.
Spanish police sources confirmed they had arrested Alouni.
"Alouni had been arrested in Granada...in principle for connections with Islamic terrorist organizations," one source told Reuters, but gave no further details.
The source said Alouni had been arrested on the orders of Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, best known for an unsuccessful bid to put former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on trial.
Alouni's wife, who was not named, told al Jazeera in an interview that a Spanish police warrant had charged her husband with having links to an al Qaeda cell that was captured in the country.
"Police in civilian clothes came to our door with a warrant to search the house and to arrest Tayseer because he was a member of al Qaeda," she said. "I don't know where they took him, Madrid I assume."
Alouni is renowned for covering the fall of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers for Al Jazeera, which made its name by airing statements by bin Laden and other al Qaeda members after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
He was one of a few international correspondents allowed to operate under the Taliban and his close ties to that now defunct Afghan government raised questions about his objectivity and al-Jazeera's coverage.
The United States had implied that the channel, one of the most widely watched in the Arab world with at least 35 million viewers, was supporting the Taliban and bin Laden.
The Qatar-based station was also criticized by the United States and Britain for its allegedly pro-Iraqi coverage of the war that toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
Alouni was one of the network's eight correspondents in Iraq. Before their ouster, Iraqi authorities expelled Alouni and asked another Al Jazeera reporter to remain off air.
Some Arab media academics have called Al Jazeera's coverage sensationalist and accused it of airing propaganda by the Iraqi government to gain exclusive access to events.
I'm waiting for angry Southerners to start a letter-writing campaign demanding that the group change its name to the "French Chicks" or something similar, to reclaim the word "Dixie" from the Chicks' Treasonous Anti-American Liberal Pi...