21 Dec 2010

Three charged with recruiting spies for Israel

8:30 pm on 21 December 2010

Officials in Egypt have charged a businessman and two Israelis with recruiting agents to spy for Israel.

State prosecutor Hisham Badawi said on Monday that Tareq Abdel Razeq Hussein was charged with harming Egypt's national interests. The two Israelis were charged in absentia.

Egyptian sources said on Sunday that a spy cell, with four Egyptians and two Israelis, had plotted to kidnap tourists in the Sinai area.

It is unclear if the cases are linked. Israel has declined to comment.

Mr Hussein, 37, the owner of an import-export business, was arrested in August.

He is accused of accepting money from the Israelis in exchange for identifying Egyptians working for telecommunications companies in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, who could be recruited to spy for Israel.

Earlier this year, an executive at Lebanon's state-owned mobile phone company Alfa was accused of spying for Israel, but it's not known if there is a connection between the cases.