Egypt’s top prosecutor has revealed the existence of a spy cell in Egypt for which two Israelis and an Egyptian have been charged with spying for Israel and harming Egyptian national interests. While the Israelis are on the run, the Egyptian has been held in custody pending his trial. Counsellor Dr. Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, the Attorney General, noted that the spy network tried to recruit spies from Syria and Lebanon; some observers believe that this was an attempt by Israel to recruit Syrian and Lebanese citizens to spy on Hezbollah and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in Syria.
The three men were named as Tarek Abdel Raziq Hussein Hassan, a 37 year old Egyptian businessman, and Eddie Moshe and Joseph Demor, both Israeli citizens. Counsellor Mahmoud brought the case before an emergency criminal trial in the state security criminal court. It is expected that Cairo Court of Appeal will determine where the case will be tried upon receipt of the full dossier from the Supreme State Security Prosecution Service.
In its indictment, the Prosecution Service said, “The three defendants have been in touch with people working for a foreign state (Israel) for the purpose of harming the country’s national interests during the period from May 2008 until the first of August, 2010 inside and outside Egypt.” It is alleged that “the Egyptian Tarek Abdel Razek agreed, while abroad, with the Israelis to work with them for the benefit of Israeli intelligence, and to provide them with reports and information on some of the officials working in the communications field in order to single out potential candidates for cooperating with Israeli intelligence in order to harm Egyptian interests.”
The prosecution has cited the act of carrying out a hostile action against two foreign countries (Syria and Lebanon) that would expose Egypt to the risk of cutting political ties. The Egyptian defendant is alleged to have been paid $37,000 for his efforts.
Although the case was reported by some Egyptian newspapers the issue had gone quiet, with no comment from either Egypt or Israel. An official of Mobinil, the Egyptian mobile communications company, denied what had been published in the Voice of the Nation, which claimed that officials of the company were involved in the spy ring. In a statement issued by the company, the anonymous spokesman said that the report is “a reformulation of old news published some years ago, concerning making international calls illegally using mobile phone lines related to networks operating in Egypt”. He denied that the people named in Voice of the Nation work for Mobinil and that investigations are taking place with employees of the company.
The Iranian-owned Arabic language satellite channel Al-Alam was the first to broadcast the story of the spy ring but did not mention when the arrest took place or what the nature of the alleged spying activities was. Other media sources claim that the investigation found that international telephone calls made by senior Egyptian officials were made accessible to Israel’s spy agency, Mossad. The defendants, it is claimed, were trained in the use of the necessary communications equipment by two Mossad operatives; sources named the two as Iver Al-Hariri and Abraham Jadon. News sites in the region have reported that the Israeli spy network has been operating in Egypt for “many months” and that it is linked to other cells in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; the defendants were, it is claimed, recruited through the Internet.