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Pak probes Australian for terror ties

Canberra, Jan. 13 (Reuters): Pakistan authorities are investigating a 29-year-old Australian man for possible links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida network and offences under Pakistan’s terrorism laws, the Australian government said today.

Australia said the man was detained by Pakistan authorities in Karachi on January 4 and was being investigated for “possible offences under Pakistan’s security/terrorism laws”.

He had been sought for over a year by Australian and Pakistan officials. “It is alleged that the man trained with the al Qaida in Afghanistan in mid-2001,” Foreign minister Alexander Downer and attorney-general Daryl Williams said.

“He is believed to have been in Pakistan over the past year and has been sought by the Pakistan authorities,” they said.

The man, described as a Caucasian with family in Australia, last departed Australia in March 2001, according to government records.

Australia said it was seeking consular access to the man at the earliest opportunity but has been advised he was in good health.

His family has been notified of his detention.

Al Qaida is blamed for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, and hundreds of al Qaida members, many of them foreigners, are thought to have taken refuge in Pakistan.

Pakistan says it has arrested more than 400 suspects from hardline groups since Washington launched its war on terror.

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