German judge sets alleged Israeli spy suspected in Hamas slaying free on bail

BERLIN (AP) — An alleged Israeli spy wanted in connection with the slaying of a Hamas leader in Dubai earlier this year was set free on bail Friday by a German judge, a spokesman for prosecutors said.

The suspect known by the name Uri Brodsky is free to travel wherever he wants while judicial proceedings against him in Germany continue, Rainer Wolf, a spokesman for Cologne prosecutors, told The Associated Press.

"He can return to Israel today if he wants to," Wolf said.

However, he cautioned that Brodsky could face spying charges if he leaves Germany and later returns. At the moment, Brodsky only faces charges relating to passport fraud because that was the only offense on which Poland agreed to extradite him.

Wolf said both prosecutors and the court agreed on the release. He declined to disclose the amount of the bail paid.

German prosecutors accuse Brodsky, who was extradited from Poland on Thursday, of illegally helping to procure a German passport used in connection with the Jan. 19 slaying of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, allegedly by a Mossad hit squad.

If convicted of that offense, Brodsky faces a fine or a short prison sentence, Wolf said. He could be tried in absentia.

Brodsky was arrested June 4 at Warsaw airport on a European arrest warrant issued by Germany, which accused him of espionage and helping to falsely obtain a German passport.

However, the Polish court that granted the extradition request said he could only be sent to face prosecution for his alleged involvement in faking an identity.

Wolf said that Brodsky would still have to face the spying accusations if he leaves Germany and later returns, or if he is arrested in a third country that agrees to extradite him to Germany on those charges.

Israel's suspected forgery of European passports allegedly used by members of a hit squad who took part in the killing of the Hamas leader in a luxury hotel in Dubai in January annoyed several European countries, including Britain, which expelled an Israeli diplomat over the matter in March.

Police in the United Arab Emirates said the hit squad linked to the Jan. 19 slaying of al-Mabhouh — one of the founders of Hamas' military wing — involved some 25 suspects, most of them carrying fake passports from European nations and Australia.

Among the faked passports, according to Dubai police, was one issued in 2009 by authorities in Cologne with Brodsky's alleged involvement. The passport was issued to a man named Michael Bodenheimer, who allegedly was part of the hit squad.