STOCKHOLM -- An appeals court has acquitted three men accused of plotting to murder a Swedish artist who had depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.

Upholding a lower court's ruling, the appeals court in Goteborg said Monday there was no conclusive evidence that the three men of Iraqi and Somali origin had planned to kill Lars Vilks in September last year.

The men were carrying knives when they were arrested after inquiring about Vilks at an art exhibition where he had been expected to appear but did not do so.

The court said the men may have been prepared to use violence against Vilks but found no concrete proof that they planned to kill him.

Vilks lives under police protection after his 2007 drawing led to death threats from militant Islamists.

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