OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the convictions of two men for plotting to blow up a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, in a case prosecutors said was linked to al Qaeda.
Ringleader Mikael Davud, a Norwegian of Chinese Muslim origin, was sentenced to seven years in prison for the plot, and an Iraqi Kurd with Norwegian residence to three-and-a-half years, the court said, reaffirming the lower court's decision.
A third man, acquitted of the main charge but convicted of buying bomb parts, still faces an appeal court.
Extremist violence has grown in the Nordic region in recent years, but the biggest attack was by anti-Muslim Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a 2011 massacre.
Cartoons published in 2005 by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper led to unrest across the Muslim world, as has a video that mocks Islam and the Prophet Mohammad this month.
Prosecutors said Davud learned bomb-making from al Qaeda in Pakistan from 2008 to 2009, plotted with members of the organization to attack the Danish newspaper, and stayed in contact with them up until his July 2010 arrest.
The court concluded that Davud intentionally entered a conspiracy with al Qaeda to prepare a bomb attack.
Davud insisted during the trial that the training he received was in Iran, that it had nothing to do with al Qaeda, and that his purpose was to bomb the Chinese embassy in Oslo in protest against China's oppression of its Uigur population.
Some Uigurs in China's westernmost Xinjiang province, most of whom are Muslim, have fought for autonomy from Beijing.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; editing by Andrew Roche)