Egypt jails Israeli `spy' for 15 years

An Egyptian state security court in Cairo yesterday sentenced an Israeli Arab to 15 years' hard labour for spying in Egypt on behalf of Israeli intelligence. The case brings Israeli-Egyptian relations to their lowest level since the peace treaty between the two countries was signed in 1979.

Azam Azam, an Israeli-Arab belonging to the Druze sect, was convicted of working as a spy when he was employed in a textile plant in Egypt. He was accused of planning to send back information written on invisible ink on items of lingerie made in the factory.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, protested by telephone to Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, that Mr Azam was innocent and said that the verdict was "an outrage". Mr Azam's lawyer said that his client was the victim of poor political relations between Egypt and Israel.

Three accomplices of Mr Azam, Emad Abdel Hamid Ismail, an Egyptian, and two Israeli Arab women - Zahra Youssef Greiss and Mona Ahmed Shawahna - were given life sentences in absentia on the same charges. The trial became the focus of Egyptian hostility to Israel, which has intensified since Mr Netanyahu became prime minister last year.

The espionage charges mainly involved economic spying, according to the charges brought against Mr Azam, who was employed by one of the few Israeli- Egyptian joint ventures in Cairo.

Mr Azam's brothers, who were in court, earlier had said that their brother would be acquitted. Israel has repeatedly denied the charges were true and the case has been portrayed by the Israeli government and media as an officially inspired fabrication. However, there is no doubt that Egyptian popular animosity to Israel has grown. Mr Azam's Egyptian attorney, Farid el-Deeb, was denounced as a traitor by other Egyptian lawyers. The Egyptian press portrayed Mr Azam and Mr Ismail as spies long before the verdict was announced.

In Israel the government reacted strongly. David Bar-Ilan, the Prime Minister's aide, said: "The Prime Minister said in the cabinet meeting that this is an outrage. Azam Azam is innocent. He does not deserve to spend one day in jail."

Mr Netanyahu has been lobbying Mubarak to release Azam since he was arrested in November 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine