U.A.E. Jails 69 Islamists for Attempting to Seize Power

The United Arab Emirates has jailed 69 people convicted of establishing secret cells to seize power, according to a federal court judgment cited by the state-run news agency WAM.

The State Security Court of the Federal Supreme Court sentenced 56 people to 10 years in prison, five others for seven years and a further eight were convicted in absentia, getting 15-year terms, WAM said. Another 25 people, including 13 women, were acquitted. The verdicts cannot be appealed.

The U.A.E. has cracked down on Islamist groups, which the government says have been emboldened by popular uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Most of the detained belong to a domestic Islamist group known as al-Islah.

The authorities said some of those charged had sought to establish links with the Muslim Brotherhood, the news agency reported in January. After the ousting of Egypt’s former leader Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood moved from being the main opposition group to a driving force in Egypt’s politics, particularly after President Mohamed Mursi’s election in June 2012.

The U.A.E., in coordination with Saudi Arabian officials, said in December it arrested members of a terror cell that was planning to carry out attacks in both countries and the broader region. The members of group, which include Emiratis and Saudis, had obtained equipment and materials to carry out their attacks, WAM said at the time.

Anwar Gargash, the U.A.E. minister for foreign affairs, said last year that the Arab Spring has emboldened Islamist groups in the region. Some Islamists have attacked the U.A.E. because of its religious tolerance, Gargash wrote in a column posted on the website of the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, The National.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dana El Baltaji in Dubai at delbaltaji@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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