Egypt jails man convicted of spying for Israel

AP News
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Posted: Jun 23, 2011 10:16 AM
Egypt jails man convicted of spying for Israel

A state security court on Thursday sentenced an Egyptian businessman to 25 years in prison for spying for Israel, court officials said.

The sentencing of Tareq Hassan, who owns an export-import firm, followed last week's arrest in Cairo of a dual Israeli-U.S. national for allegedly spying for Israel. Ilan Grapel was arrested on suspicion of sedition and inciting Egyptians to clash with the country's military leadership.

Egyptian prosecutors said he was a Mossad agent. His family, however, maintains he was spending the summer in Cairo as an intern at a legal aid group. Israel also denies the 27-year-old Grapel is a spy.

On Thursday, presiding judge Gamaleddin Rushdy also sentenced two Israeli citizens in absentia to 25 years in jail. The two were said by Egyptian prosecutors to be Mossad agents.

Hassan was arrested in August and charged four months later, along with the two Israelis, for attempting to identify telecommunications workers in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who would be willing to spy for Israel. He was also alleged to have passed intelligence gathered by an Israeli agent in Syria to the Israelis.

The prosecutors said he provided intelligence to Israel in exchange for cash.

The court officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said he "preferred not to make comments as long as American-Israeli backpacker Ilan Grapel is still under detention in Cairo."

Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979 but their relationship has been cool. Often, relations between the two Middle Eastern neighbors has become tense over what Cairo sees as Israel's unwillingness to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians and over similar spy cases.