A special court in Egypt has sentenced an Egyptian businessman, as well as two Israeli officers tried in absentia, to 25 years in prison for spying on the behalf of Israel.
Cairo’s supreme state security court found Tareq Abdel Razek, the 37-year-old owner of an import-export company, guilty of "acts of espionage" on Thursday.
He allegedly collaborated with the two Israelis, who the Egyptian court said were agents of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. The Israelis apparently fled Egypt after Razek’s arrest.
Razek was charged with attempting to help Mossad recruit spies in Egypt’s telecommunications companies to tap the lines of high ranking government officials.
Razek was also convicted of espionage against the neighbouring countries Lebanon and Syria.
He reportedly confessed that his two Israeli contacts asked him to travel many times to Syria with a fake name under the pretext of purchasing local products whereas the real aim of his trip was to give funds to a Syrian security officer working in a "sensitive" area.
Egypt’s official press said his confession had led to three espionage cells being dismantled in Lebanon and Syria.
Thursday’s convictions came after Egyptian authorities on June 12 arrested an alleged Israeli officer working for the Mossad intelligence agency on charges of spying.
Ilan Grapel, a 27-year-old Israeli American, is accused of sowing sectarian strife and chaos, the official MENA news agency had reported.
Relations between Israel and Egypt – which became the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state in 1979 – have been tense since a popular uprising ousted former president Hosni Mubarak in February.
(Agencies via Al Jazeera)