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Swiss Internet Terror Trial Opens

A North African man and his wife went on trial Wednesday on charges they ran Web sites that supported al-Qaida-linked groups with videos of people killed by terrorists and information on how to make bombs.

Moez Garsallaoui, a Tunisian who is based in Switzerland, and Malika El Aroud, the Belgian-born widow of an al-Qaida suicide bomber, pleaded innocent on the first day of their trial in a high-security courtroom.

Deputy Federal Prosecutor Claude Nicati demanded two years of prison for Garsallaoui, 39, six months of which would be suspended. El Aroud, 48, should receive a 12-month suspended prison sentence, he said.

The suspects were detained in Switzerland in February 2005 and their alleged Web sites shut down, the Federal Criminal Court said. They got married after their release on bail.

The prosecution showed a video of a beheading it said it had found on one of Garsallaoui's Web sites.

"I've never seen this video," he testified when prosecutors asked whether he had put the footage on his Web site.

Besides providing support for terrorism, the two are accused of publicly inciting criminal acts and racial violence as well as the manufacture, concealment and transfer of explosives or poisonous gases.

Garsallaoui is accused of running Internet discussion forums used by terror groups to share information and to publicize claims of responsibility for attacks and threats against Westerners.

Swiss media reported two years ago that the 2004 beheading of American engineer Paul M. Johnson, Jr. in Saudi Arabia was one of a number of executions aired on the sites.

El Aroud is accused of operating an Islamist Web site. She is the widow of one of the suicide attackers who killed the anti-Taliban Afghan warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to Swiss police.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office said a forum on one of the Web sites published letters claiming responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in Pakistan in July 2004.

Other postings included a threat to kill Italian aid workers Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, who were abducted in Baghdad in September 2004. The two aid workers were later freed.

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