Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Egypt says it's uncovered an Israeli spy ring

Egyptian authorities have charged an Egyptian businessman and two Israelis with recruiting agents to spy for Israel. An attorney working for the Egyptian state security service said the suspects had established a spy ring in order to kidnap tourists for ransom and harm the country's economy.

"State security prosecutors have announced a spying network that included an Egyptian and two Israelis," said attorney Hicham Badawi.

The Egyptian business man in question, Tarek Abdel Rezek Hussein, was charged with harming Egypt's national interests, and is in custody, while the two Israeli men, who fled the country, were charged in abstention.

The charges were brought against the three men, days after news of an alleged spy group, consisting of four Egyptians and two Israelis, had planned to kidnap touristS in Sinai. It is yet unclear whether or not the cases are linked, the Egyptian authorities declined to comment. But according to Badawi, Hassan accepted a sum of $37,000 in exchange for information about Egyptian personnel working telecommunications, who could potentially be recruited as spies in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

Egypt's state news agency, MENA, reported that:"The general prosecutor ordered the transfer of three accused persons, who included two Israeli fugitives and one detained Egyptian, to be sent ... before the emergency state security supreme criminal court on the charges of spying for Israel and harming the country's national interests.”

Both Israel's Foreign Ministry and its Embassy in Cairo denied knowledge of the case. The country's Foreign Minister Yigal Palmor said "We are not familiar with the charges. We will have to look into it in order to understand what this is all about."

There have been several instance of alleged spying activity in Egypt in the last several decades, most notably the 1996 case of Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Arab textile worker, who was sentenced to 15 years for spying for Israel.

Sources: BCC News, YNetNews, Reuters, YaLibnan

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

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