ABU DHABI // Thirty men have been jailed for establishing and running a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UAE.
Twenty of the men are Egyptian and 10 are Emirati, with the Emiratis convicted of sedition last July.
The group was sentenced on Tuesday at the Federal Supreme Court to prison terms ranging from three months to five years, depending on the charges.
The court ordered the closure of all branches of the Brotherhood in the country the group had been running and all funds and properties related to the group to be seized.
Before delivering the verdict, Judge Mohammed Al Jarrah Al Tenaiji said the court had been fair and transparent.
“Since the court has adopted this case it was keen to establish values of justice and to be guided by the provisions of Islamic Sharia laws. The principles of the judiciary system gave full transparency to the accused by agreeing to their requests and listening in accordance to legal procedures given by the constitution,” he said.
The main defendant, M A, 42, an Egyptian, who embezzled classified Government files and shared the contents with other members of the Muslim Brotherhood branch, was jailed for five years.
These files were stored on a memory drive, which was given to him by mistake by a First Warrant Officer in the Supreme Council for National Security, who was also a board member on the same sports club.
The officer had asked M A to copy pictures of the club’s activities in April 2012.
However, the drive also held confidential details of people connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and PowerPoint presentations about it.
Seven other Egyptians and one Emirati were sentenced to four years for broadcasting the contents of the memory drive to other members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UAE and Egypt and knowing of the embezzlement without reporting it to the authorities.
One Egyptian and eight Emiratis were jailed for a year for not reporting the embezzlement.
The court had heard how the members had decided at a secret meeting to provide the confidential contents to members of Al Islah, another group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
All the Egyptians were given an extra six months for establishing and administering a branch of the Brotherhood.
Five of the Emiratis were also sentenced to an extra three months for knowing about the establishment of a secret Brotherhood branch and not reporting it to authorities.
The men had confessed to sending money back to the parent group in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak was deposed as president of Egypt in January 2011.
The cell members planned to send US$7 million (Dh25.7m) to Egypt, but in the end sent only $2m.
All the Egyptians and one of the Emiratis were fined Dh3,000 for collecting financial aid for the Muslim Brotherhood branch without approval from the Government.
The defence lawyers and eight Emiratis failed to attend the hearing on Tuesday in protest against not receiving the case files in time, they said.
One of the Egyptians, A L, said on Tuesday that he will not forgive anyone, especially members of the media.
“I will not have mercy on those who held their pens against me, I will seek vengeance,” he said.
One of the Emiratis claimed he had never met the Egyptians and did not know of the memory drive leading to this case until he was interrogated.
“We accept the verdict. I personally forgive everyone that has harmed me,” the Emirati said.
They all denied the charges in court.
A spokesman for the Emirates Human Rights Association, which followed the trials, said that “we believe that these trials were transparent, clear and public”.
He added: “The accused have throughout the trials defended themselves individually and have been defended by lawyers either appointed by them or by their close ones.
“The court and its judicial members open-mindedly listened to the accused and their defence.
“Since there is no power over the judges who ruled some were innocent and indicted others, the Emirates Human Rights Association is convinced that the judges’ rationality and commitment to justice took priority in the case.”
Local media, delegates from the Egyptian embassy, human rights representatives and lawyer’s association members, along with 11 family members attended the hearing.
All the Egyptians will be deported after serving their jail terms.