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United Arab Emirates

American guilty in terror case

October 13, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Using sweeping security codes passed after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United Arab Emirates' highest court convicted an American citizen on terrorism-related charges amid claims that torture was used to extract his confession.

The four-month trial of Naji Hamdan also was carried out without making public the details of the accusations, showing the tight lid on information over security matters in a nation that promotes itself as the West's foothold in the Persian Gulf.

Anti-terrorism laws in the Emirates, passed in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., have often been expanded to muzzle political dissent and have drawn sharp criticism from international rights groups.

The court sentenced Hamdan, an American of Lebanese origin who lived in the Hawthorne area for two decades, to 18 months in prison after facing three terrorism-related charges, including having ties to an Al Qaeda group in Iraq. But Hamdan, who denied the allegations, should be freed soon because the sentence takes into account time in custody since his arrest here last year.

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