Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera repeatedly demanded Allawi's release during his six-week detention, dismissing allegations that he had ties to Palestinian militant group Hamas

Israel has released Al Jazeera's Kabul bureau chief Samer Allawi, claiming that the Palestinian journalist has confessed to links with Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Allawi was convicted by a military court of "conspiracy on behalf of a banned organization (Hamas)" and, under a plea bargain, was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and 5,000 shekel (£900) fine.

According to a statement issued by the Israeli prime minister's office, Allawi confessed to "utilising his position as a journalist with Al Jazeera" for the benefit of Hamas. The statement claims Allawi agreed to write negative stories about the US operations in Afghanistan and to express support for Palestinian resistance.

It also accused the Qatar-based network of abusing its position to advance the cause of Hamas.

Following his release, Allawi told Reuters that his arrest "was a charade aimed at extorting Al Jazeera".

Palestinian-born Allawi was arrested on 9 August at the border between the West Bank and Jordan, under suspicion of having ties to Hamas. According to Al Jazeera, the correspondent was returning home after a three-week vacation visiting his family.

He was held for more than a month without charge.

According to Israel's intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, Allawi confessed to establishing ties with Hamas in 1993 and serving as a member of its "Supreme Palestine Committee" until 2004.

A statement from the intelligence organisation said: "Allawi agreed to carry out military or organisational activity as required by Hamas."

During his detention, Allawi consistently denied having non-journalistic ties to Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US and the EU. He claimed that he met with members of the group only in the course of his work as a journalist.

"There was no evidence against me," Allawi told Reuters after his release.

"The whole arrest episode was a charade aimed at extorting Al Jazeera. I was not the target."

Allawi defended his meetings with members of Hamas: "I meet people everywhere from whom I can get the news".

Al Jazeera was unavailable for comment.

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