Tunisia’s government denied it had charged nine men, including two military officers, with plotting to kill US servicemen, saying an investigation revealed only a plan to carry out crimes against locals and property.
Lawyer Samir Ben Amor, a specialist in terrorism trials who often defends Islamist suspects, said earlier this week the men had aimed to attack US soldiers during joint military exercises in the North African country, Reuters reports.
He said they were charged with trying to steal weapons and explosives from a military base for use in the attack.
A judicial source who asked not to be named said eight “radicals” had been arrested but interrogations since July 4 had produced no indication the suspected group members, including the military officers, had foreign military targets.
“The research concerned a radical group of 14 people, including six people who are still at large, who were preparing to commit crimes against persons and property,” the source said, without giving further details.
Tunisia is a staunch ally of the US and the two countries have had close military ties since the early 1960s.
The government has been clamping down on radical Islamists over the past few years and jailed more than 1000 people, many of whom planned to join insurgents in Iraq to fight US-led forces there. Most are still in prison.