Tuesday 01 November 2016

UAE sentences seven to prison over links to Hizballah

A top Emirati court on Monday sentenced seven people to up to life in prison after convicting them of forming a cell linked to Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hizballah Party, state media said.

One Emirati national and two Lebanese men were given life sentences, while an Iraqi and another Lebanese man were jailed for 15 years each, according to state news agency WAM.

An Egyptian woman and another Emirati man were each jailed for 10 years, it said.

The charges included “passing classified information about a governmental department to Lebanon’s Hizballah terrorist [group] and for the benefit of a foreign country,” WAM said.

The defendants were also accused of passing information about “oil production in one of the emirates as well as maps of oil and gas fields,” it said.

They were also charged with “forming and managing an international group belonging to the [Hizballah] party without a licence from the government,” it added.

The trial at the state security court was attended by some of the defendants’ family members, as well as lawyers and representatives of local media, WAM said.

Foreign press are not usually given access to state security trials.

The Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council in March declared Hizballah a “terrorist” group over the movement’s backing for the Syrian regime.

Hizballah is fighting in Syria in support of the government of President Bashar Assad against opponents including Gulf-backed rebels.

In another hearing, the court jailed an Emirati man for seven years for “fighting with a terrorist group in Syria,” The National daily reported. His sister, 34, was sentenced to five years and fined 500,000 dirhams ($136,240) for posting insulting tweets against the state.

The 24-year-old was found guilty of joining the Ahrar al-Sham Islamist group in Syria in 2013 and receiving military training. His lawyer said he had gone to war-ravaged Syria only to retrieve the body of his father who was killed while fighting for the group, the paper said.



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