Fugitive handed terrorism charges over Charlie Hebdo attack

Fugitive handed terrorism charges over Charlie Hebdo attack
The scene of the shootings in which 11 people were killed. Picture: AP

French authorities have handed preliminary terrorism charges to a fugitive extremist suspected of helping organise the deadly 2015 attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The Paris prosecutor's office said Peter Cherif was expelled to France after his recent arrest in Djibouti.

He was immediately taken into custody and charged upon his arrival today at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, accused of criminal association with a terrorist enterprise.

France's defence minister says he played an "important role in organising" the March 2015 attack.

Cherif, also known as Abu Hamza, was a close friend of the two brothers who killed 11 people at Charlie Hebdo's offices and a policeman nearby in Paris.

He had travelled to Iraq and Syria in the early 2000s, and had been on the run from French authorities since 2011.

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