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Egypt claims it exposed Mossad espionage ring

Suspects include European diplomats who allegedly used their embassies to spy for Israel and the United States

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

President Shimon Peres proposes a toast with foreign diplomats at an event celebrating the Jewish New Year on September 3, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)
President Shimon Peres proposes a toast with foreign diplomats at an event celebrating the Jewish New Year on September 3, 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

Egypt has exposed three espionage cells comprising foreign diplomats who used their diplomatic credentials to smuggle sensitive documents out of the country for the benefit of the Mossad and the United States, Ma’an reported Tuesday.

Unnamed “intelligence sources” told the Palestinian news agency that the exposed cells comprised 17 men, some of whom are diplomats operating from within their countries’ embassies in Cairo. The men, including African nationals carrying European passports, allegedly sent their reports back to their countries using diplomatic mail.

Egypt has experienced an intensification in security measures in recent days, culminating in a new law issued Sunday effectively banning street protests.

Short reports on the spy ring first emerged in Egyptian media Monday, claiming that the spies were working for “European countries and the Israeli Mossad.”

According to the Ma’an report, the spies were collecting information on Egypt’s political and economic situation, as well as the Egyptian military and its movements. The men reportedly claimed they were working for research centers in their countries, but were confronted with phone recordings proving their involvement in espionage.

On Monday, Egypt announced the expulsion of the Turkish ambassador to Cairo, accusing him of conspiring with the banned Muslim Brotherhood to harm Egyptian national security. In this case too, the envoy was accused of using his country’s embassy to harbor the Brotherhood operatives.

Egypt frequently announced the exposure of foreign spies in its territory, most often accused of working for Israel. In June, Egypt prosecuted nine men for allegedly working with the Mossad, after exposing a similar network in April.

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