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Mon 12 Oct 2009 04:00 PM

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Man jailed in UAE for Iraqi terrorist links

Lebanese-American man is sentenced to 18 months in prison followed by deportation by Abu Dhabi court.

A Lebanese-American man accused in the UAE of having links to an Iraqi militant group was sentenced on Monday to 18 months in prison followed by deportation.

The Federal Supreme Court pronounced the verdict, which could not be appealed, against Naji Hamdan, 43, who was present at the court in Abu Dhabi and had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He said his confessions were given "under torture."

"I was disappointed. This is not fair because I wasn't acquitted," Hamdan said after the verdict was announced.

His family said that he should leave jail "very soon" since he had already spent 14 months in detention.

The court did not read out the charges levelled against Hamdan.

But The National newspaper reported last month that he is accused of "promoting terrorism, participating in the work of a terrorist organisation and funding a terrorist organisation."

The public prosecution submitted a handwritten confession by Hamdan at the opening of his trial in June, the paper said.

He is reportedly accused of having direct links with the Iraqi militant group Ansar al-Sunna through email.

His lawyer had argued that accessing Islamist websites was "not a crime and not a terrorist act," and that Hamdan "cannot be charged for anything that has happened outside the country," The National reported.

Hamdan is also reported to have admitted that he gave money to Al-Taqwa, an institution accused of funding operations by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.