A report by Diário de Notícias has claimed that one of two men who are being held in pre-trial detention for links to ISIS/Daesh after being arrested in Lisbon last week, had contact with the president while he was having lunch in the capital in 2018.
Yasser A., an Iraqi who is in pre-trial detention along with his brother, Ammar A ., have been indicted for crimes of terrorism and crimes against humanity.
According to Diário Notícias, Yasser A. was one of the employees who was working at the Mezze restaurant in Arroios when Prime Minister, António Costa, and the former President of the Republic, Jorge Sampaio, made a visit in January 2018, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also visited the same restaurant in June of the same year.
The newspaper claims that at the time the suspect was 29 years old and had been under investigation by the Judiciary Police since July 2017, with no confirmation of his presence during the visit by the head of state.
"The lunch preparations were made and there was no contraindication for security", said the President of the Republic.
The head of state put the situation into perspective: "I spend my life on the beach, in the supermarket, shopping. As you can imagine, it is very difficult for me to be sure that the people next to me will not later come to be considered, or are already suspected of being or not being terrorists."
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa pointed out that even if the suspect was already under surveillance, this "wouldn't limit him" in terms of circulation around the country: "He could meet me, like any other citizen, in a public square, in a supermarket".
According to Diário de Notícias, the two Iraqi brothers had been “in Portugal since 2017 under the EU refugee relocation programme" and Yasser started working at the Mezze restaurant "that year, after training as a waiter".
In the note that was published on the official website of the Presidency of the Republic about the visit of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to this restaurant, on 7 June, 2018, it is stated that "the President of the Republic offered, at Mezze restaurant in Lisbon, a lunch for the ambassadors of the Member States of the European Union (EU) and of the candidate countries accredited in Portugal".