updated 2/27/2007 2:40:15 PM ET 2007-02-27T19:40:15

The imam of a Georgia mosque who pleaded guilty to providing support to the militant group Hamas was sentenced Tuesday to more than seven years in prison.

Mohamed Shorbagi, 42, could have faced up to 15 years in prison.

Shorbagi pleaded guilty in August to providing material support to the militant group Hamas in a case in which the agreement, charges and even the plea hearing were handled in secret. U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy sentenced him Tuesday to seven years and eight months in prison.

At the sentencing, Shorbagi said he realized that some of his actions were wrong.

He pleaded guilty in August to a charge of providing material support to Hamas and also testified in a Chicago case against a man identified by authorities as a Hamas operative.

Prosecutors have said that between 1997 and 2001, Shorbagi provided financial support to Hamas, a group designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization. He also was accused of conspiring to provide material support to Hamas. The donations were through a charity called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Dammers suggested that his sentence be less than 15 years because of Shorbagi’s help in testifying for the government in other terrorism-related trials.

After the sentencing, Shorbagi shook hands with about a dozen friends and family members who were gathered at the court before he was taken away.

He has said under oath that in return for his testimony, prosecutors agreed to seek a reduction in his sentence, give him a special residency visa, place him in the federal witness protection program and not indict him in an unrelated fraud case.

Shorbagi is a citizen of the Palestinian territory. He is in the United State legally and has said he has been here for 22 years.

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