A leading journalist with the Arab television network Al Jazeera charged in Spain over his alleged links to the Al Qaida network has been re-arrested, a Spanish judicial source said yesterday.

The decision to detain Taysir Alouni, a Spaniard of Syrian origin, was taken after a request by the Spanish prosecutor's office which said there was a strong risk that he would try to flee the country before his trial.

He was due to appear before a magistrate yesterday who would then formally place him in detention, the source said.

"They arrested him in the evening (Thursday) at his office and police officers arrived to tell me this morning that they were taking him to Madrid at around 8am today," his wife Fatima said from her home in the southern city of Grenada.

Alouni was first arrested on September 5, 2003.

Suffering from a heart defect, he was released on bail the following month but told he was not allowed to leave the country.

Alluni found fame with exclusive reporting from Afghanistan during the US-led war on the Taliban launched in October 2001, interviewing bin Laden and later reporting from Baghdad on the war in Iraq.

Fatima said she had no idea why the Spanish authorities should have arrested her husband again.

"They came to warn me so that I could bring him some of his things and his medicine, but I can't go to Madrid to be with him, I have a three-month-old child and I can't leave."

Earlier she told Al Jazeera television that she was surprised that her husband had been arrested. She accused top Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon of making the case "a personal affair" and demanded her husband's release "because there is no new evidence" against him.

Alouni's lawyer could not be contacted.

Alouni's arrest came as a surprise to Al Jazeera," said Jihad Ballout, Al Jazeera spokesman in Doha.

"We are convinced that Allouni did no more or no less than pursuing his job in a professional manner. "We have faith in the integrity of the Spanish legal system which we trust will ultimately acquit him of all charges," Ballout said yesterday.

With additional inputs from Al Jazeera Online