SANAA (AFP) — Senior Al-Qaeda figure Jaber al-Banna, who has a five million dollar US bounty on his head, walked free from an appeal hearing in Yemen on Sunday after being granted bail on his own recognisance.
Banna, who has joint Yemeni-US citizenship and was handed a 10 year jail term in absentia last year, is one of 36 convicted militants who are appealing prison sentences of between two and 15 years.
He surrendered to Yemeni authorities in December after negotiations lasting several months. There has still been no word of what deal, if any, was struck.
Banna made his first court appearance at the opening of the appeal on February 23 when he was allowed to walk free without any bail conditions at all.
At Sunday's hearing, Banna urged the court to overturn his "unjust" sentence and accused the Yemeni government of colluding with the United States to imprison him.
He is due back in court on March 23.
Washington suspects Banna of providing material support to Al-Qaeda and has offered a reward of up to five million dollars for his arrest.
He is one of a number of Al-Qaeda suspects who have been the subject of arguments between Sanaa and Washington.
Yemen and the United States previously clashed over Jamal al-Badawi, a suspected Al-Qaeda militant jailed for 15 years for his role in the October 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole off the southern port of Aden which killed 17 US sailors.
Badawi, who also has a five-million-dollar US bounty on his head, was among 23 convicted Al-Qaeda militants who escaped from jail in February 2006.
He surrendered to the authorities in October but neighbours said he was being allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest in his own home.
The revelation prompted Washington to suspend a 20.6 million dollar aid package which triggered Badawi's reincarceration.
Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's ancestral homeland, Yemen is one of the world's poorest countries despite its proximity to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »