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FILE PHOTO: The moon sets behind a hill and a building with an electronic sign for the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Copacabana neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - A federal court convicted eight Brazilians on Thursday of planning an attack on the Rio Olympics inspired by Islamic State and sentenced them to between six and 15 years in prison.

The eight men were arrested in July two weeks before the Games opened in Rio de Janeiro, raising fears of an attack on the global sports event. Authorities said they were a loosely organised group of amateurs barely connected by social media.

The leader of the group, Leonid el Kadre de Melo, 33, was convicted of recruitment with aim of practicing acts of terrorism and was sentenced to 15 years and 10 months in prison. The other seven were convicted of criminal association and promoting a terrorist organisation and sentenced to six years and five months in prison.

Brazilian government officials said the group had not met in person, lacked funding and did not actually have contact with Islamic State, though they had tried to purchase guns.

Evidence in the sentencing included photos of members of the group posing with black Islamic State flags and a chat page discussion on how to make a bomb using charcoal, fertiliser and sulphur.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Reuters