Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir is fighting off what he calls pressure from neighbouring countries and the United States to avoid imprisonment on a 17-year-old conviction. But while the Indonesian Government tries to move against him, it is working for the release of three Indonesians arrested by Philippine police. Meanwhile, a fourth, Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, has been jailed for possession of explosives. Various intelligence agencies claim all of these men - Bashir, Tamsil Linrung, Agus Dwikarna, Abdul Jamal Balfas and Ghozi - belong to a shadowy group called Jemaah Islamiyah, which has long advocated Islamic law and is believed to have al-Qaeda links. Bashir, who is suing the Singapore Government for calling him a terrorist, has been sentenced to nine years in jail for subversion after the Indonesian Supreme Court yesterday delivered the sentence on a verdict that was handed down on February 6, 1985. But Bashir plans to contest the sudden reappearance of the charge, noting that the law under which he was found guilty is no longer in the criminal code. He firmly denies oft-repeated assertions by foreign governments that he is a terrorist with links to Osama bin Laden. He also alleges the Indonesian Government is interfering in the legal process, perhaps to stop him from pursuing his suit against Singapore. 'Indonesia, according to my client, is buckling under pressure from neighbouring countries Singapore and Malaysia, and the United States as well, to put him away for good . . . over unsubstantiated beliefs that he is linked to terrorist groups,' one of Bashir's lawyers, Mahendra Datta, said. 'Why has the notification of the verdict only come now? Bashir has been in Indonesia since 1999,' he said. Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa denied intervention in the legal process. But the ministry has been trying to secure the release of three Indonesians - Linrung, Dwikarna and Balfas - who were detained last month in Manila. Philippine police have said they were asked to arrest the men on orders from Jakarta, a charge denied by Indonesian intelligence chief A. M. Hendropriyono. Now Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda believes the three may be released on May 13, for lack of evidence, when their initial 60-day detention order runs out. If the three are freed, it will be an interesting admission of the difficulties in proving the many allegations of so-called terrorism. To some analysts it also suggests that reports of a botched plot to arrest the three for domestic political purposes may have backfired. As if to confirm a political dimension to the trio's detention, Mr Hassan recently met House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung - himself a suspect in a corruption case. Meanwhile, in General Santos city in the Philippines, Ghozi, the man who allegedly planned a series of bombings that killed 22 people in Manila in 2000, pleaded guilty yesterday to illegal possession of explosives, and received a sentence of 10 to 12 years in jail and a US$4,000 (HK$31,000) fine. Ghozi, 31, had given information after his arrest in January that led to the discovery of more than a tonne of TNT buried in his backyard in General Santos, along with 300 detonators, detonating cord and 17 M-16 assault rifles. Investigators claim he was a member of al-Qaeda.