A French court has sentenced to nine years in prison a Moroccan man suspected of ties to the September 11 hijackers in the United States.

A Paris court sentenced Karim Mehdi Thursday after convicting him on charges of associating with terrorists. It also barred him from entering France once he has completed his prison term.

French authorities arrested Mehdi in June 2003 at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Investigators believe he was about to travel to the Indian Ocean island of Reunion for a possible attack on a tourist site there.

Prosecutors said Mehdi maintained contacts with terrorist Ziad Jarrah - one of the hijackers on the flight that crashed into a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. Mehdi also is suspected of contacts with Ramzi Binalshibh, a plotter of the attacks.

Mehdi insisted that he met the two hijackers only once, while on a visit to Hamburg.

Three of the September 11 hijackers were later traced to a terror cell operating in that German city.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.