Frenchman linked to attackers charged, incarcerated

AP News
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Posted: Jan 29, 2015 5:22 PM
Frenchman linked to attackers charged, incarcerated

PARIS (AP) — French authorities filed preliminary terrorism charges Thursday against a Frenchman extradited from Bulgaria and linked to gunmen behind deadly attacks in Paris, a judicial official said.

Fritz-Joly Joachin was ordered jailed for at least four months pending further investigation, the official said.

He was arrested Jan. 1 on a French warrant while trying to cross from Bulgaria into Turkey. French police say that Joachin, 29, was an associate of the Kouachi brothers, who killed 12 people in an attack Jan. 7 against newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Joachin was given preliminary charges of participating in an organized crime group with aims to prepare a terrorist act, and seeking to join extremist fighters in Syria, the official said. Joachin arrived in France on Thursday from Bulgaria.

Facing French judges, he said that he had been heading to Turkey on vacation - not to join fighters in Syria - and had a job waiting for him back in France, the official said. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

The case against Joachin is separate from the investigation into the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market in Paris, but comes as authorities are trying to determine whether those gunmen were part of a broader terrorist network.

The Kouachi brothers and gunman Amedy Coulibaly were killed by police after attacking the newspaper and a kosher market. French authorities have handed four others preliminary charges on suspicion of links to the attackers.

European governments have been on alert for potential attacks by Islamic extremists, especially since the Paris attacks.

In Belgium, security forces thwarted what they said was a major terror attack against police with raids Jan. 15 that left two suspects dead. A suspect believed linked to that case was extradited from Greece to Belgium on Thursday. Belgian authorities said the suspect was officially charged with participation in a terrorist group.

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Raf Casert in Brussels, and Nicolas Vaux-Montagny in Paris, contributed to this report.