UAE sentences thirteen to jail terms for terrorism, spying

DUBAI, Dec. 27 (Reuters) - A court in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi sentenced 13 people to jail terms on terrorism and spying charges including joining Islamic State, the state news agency WAM reported.

Four defendants convicted of promoting terrorist organizations in the UAE received ten-year terms, and three others between 1 1/2 and seven years for allegedly joining Islamic State and al Qaeda's former branch in Syria.

Two others were convicted separately of sharing "sensitive intelligence" and military information with an unspecified foreign country, which some local newspapers identified as Iran.

The remaining cases alleged spreading false news about the UAE and showing a lack of respect for national symbols.

All of the defendants appeared to originate from Arab countries other than the UAE.

A trade and tourism hub, the UAE is a monarchy which tolerates little public criticism and has escaped the wars and militant attacks that have blighted much of the region.

Together with its ally, Saudi Arabia, the energy-rich Gulf state is locked in a regional power struggle with Shi'ite Muslim Iran, which it accuses of seeking to dominate the Middle East.

The UAE sentenced five Emirati citizens to death for joining Islamic State last year.

(Reporting by Kateryna Kadabashy; Editing by Richard Balmforth)