A French lawyer, well-known for taking on cases in which he defended radical jihadists, has been arrested by French security services after being accused of helping to finance terrorist activity.
Paris lawyer Bruno Vinay was arrested on Tuesday by members of the Directorate-General of Internal Security (DGSI), France’s domestic intelligence agency, following the terror financing allegations, BFMTV reports.
Sources close to the investigation told French newspaper Le Parisien that Vinay was suspected of sending around 20,000 euros to an intermediary who passed the sum on to jihadists in the Middle East, which was likely intended to help release Islamic radical Maximilien Thibaut and help him get to France from Iraq.
Thibaut joined Islamic State in 2015 and is married to radical Mélina Boughedir, who was captured by Iraqi forces in 2017, convicted in an Iraqi court last year of terrorist offences, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Authorities have largely considered Thibaut, 33, to be missing.
Prosecutors Identify 416 French Islamic State Donors, Terror Group’s Cash Estimated in The Billions
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Over the years, Vinay has defended several high-profile jihadists including Emilie König, who was captured in Northern Syria by Kurdish forces and was suspected of recruiting nearly two hundred women to join Islamic State after she had joined the terror group in 2012.
In September 2015, König became the first woman to be listed on the United States’s international terror blacklist.
Vinay also represented Franco-Algerian Kamel Daoudi, who was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison in 2005 for plotting to attack the U.S. embassy in Paris. Daoudi was also stripped of his French citizenship following his conviction.
The arrest comes after French authorities identified 416 individuals last year whom they believed to have been engaged in helping to fund terrorist activities. Intelligence services have said that the Islamic State terror organisation could be sitting on as much as three billion euros in total funds.