Swedish-Lebanese man jailed by Thai court over bomb material

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Swedish man of Lebanese origin accused of having militant links was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison by a Thai court on Wednesday for possessing explosive material.

Atris Hussein, a 49-year-old Swedish citizen, was found guilty of possessing material that could be used to make explosive devices but the court stopped short of implicating him in any plans to plant bombs.

"The accused hid bomb-making material that is illegal and could pose a security risk but because he was willing to cooperate with the authorities, his sentenced is reduced from four years to two years and eight months," a judge at a Bangkok criminal court said on Wednesday.

Hussein hugged and kissed his wife after the verdict, telling reporters gathered at the court that he was fine.

Police arrested Hussein in January 2012 at Bangkok's main international airport following a U.S. alert over a possible terrorist threat.

After he was arrested, police say he led them to a warehouse in Bangkok packed with more than 3,000 kg (6,600 lb) of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser that can be used to make explosives.

Authorities accused Hussein of having links to Hezbollah, a Lebanese-based Shia Islamist movement backed by Syria and Iran that the U.S. considers to be a terrorist organisation. Thai media reported at the time that one of Hussein's targets was the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok.

Hussein has denied having any links to the movement.

Thai police say his case is not related to a botched bomb plot in Bangkok in February 2012 involving Iranian suspects, when five people were wounded by a series of explosions.

Wittaya Buranasin, Hussein's lawyer, said his client would appeal against the verdict within 30 days.

"Mr Atris has spent one year and eight months in jail so we hope the court will take that into consideration and reduce his sentence," Wittaya said.

(Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel)

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