Egyptian convicted of spying for Israel

Man sentenced to 15 years in prison; 3 Israelis convicted in absentia.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The Egyptian State Security Emergency Court convicted an Egyptian-Canadian man of spying for Israel and sentenced him to 15 years in prison, Saturday. Three Israelis charged alongside Mohammed el-Attar and tried in absentia also received 15 years in prison. Attar, 30, and the Israeli defendants had been on trial since Feb. 24 at the Cairo court. Attar, who had pleaded not guilty, flashed a victory sign when he entered the courtroom surrounded by dozens of security personnel and was rushed to a waiting police van after the verdict was issued. Prosecutors said earlier that Attar confessed to spying for Israel and gave a detailed account of his role in collecting information about Egyptians and Arabs living in Turkey and Canada in return for money. He also allegedly received instructions from the three Israelis, said to be intelligence officers, to recruit Christian Egyptian immigrants in Canada using money and sex. Attar's defense lawyer Ibrahim el-Basyuni has said his confession was made under duress while being interrogated. The defendant told the court in an earlier session he confessed because he was tortured with electric shocks. However, Prosecutor Hani Hamoodah has insisted the defendant made the confession freely and without coercion. Attar, a former student at the Islamic Al-Azhar university in Cairo, was arrested on Jan. 1 as he returned from abroad to visit his family in Egypt. His alleged confession claimed he fled Egypt in 2001 and sought asylum with the UN refugee agency offices in Turkey after he was sentenced to three years in prison for issuing a bad check. It also alleged Attar converted to Christianity in Istanbul and was then sent to Canada, where he delivered more spy reports about Christian Egyptians. Basyuni has denied Attar converted or that he received any money from Israel, saying his client supported himself by working in a bank in Canada.