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Sinai court sentences two Israelis to life for espionage

Pair receive punishment in absentia; Egyptian man imprisoned after being accused of spying for Mossad

Illustrative. Army trucks carry Egyptian military tanks in el-Arish, in the northern Sinai Peninsula, August 2012 (AP)
Illustrative. Army trucks carry Egyptian military tanks in el-Arish, in the northern Sinai Peninsula, August 2012 (AP)

An Egyptian court sentenced two Israelis and an Egyptian national to life in prison for espionage against the state.

The two Israelis, named as Jouma Adbari al-Tarabin and Shlomo Sofer, an alleged Mossad agent, were sentenced in absentia, as the pair were not present during the trial and are not believed to be in the country, according to Channel 10.

The Egyptian had already been serving his sentence in a local jail in the Sinai Peninsula. In Egypt, a life sentence amounts to 25 years.

In a verdict delivered by a court in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish, the three were also slapped with fines of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (about $1,130) each.

Prosecutors said the Egyptian convict, Salamah Mohamed Suleiman, received money and was also given a house in Israel in return for providing his Israeli handlers with information about Egyptian security forces and jihadists in northern Sinai.

Suleiman also illegally traveled to Israel five times — the first visit was in 2011 — to work out the details of his mission that was intended to “harm Egypt’s national interests,” the prosecution said.

In March, an Egyptian man was sentenced to life in jail and a woman to 15 years for spying for Israel. Their two alleged Israeli handlers were sentenced in absentia to life in jail.

In two other cases over the past few months, an Egyptian and a Jordanian telecommunications engineer have been jailed for 10 years on similar charges.

The Egyptian military has poured troops and armor into the Sinai to quell the insurgency spearheaded by a local Islamic State group affiliate.

The Islamic State-linked Sinai Province, previously known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has staged some of the deadliest attacks against Egypt’s security forces since the army ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

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