CAIRO, Egypt, (AP) — An Egyptian-Canadian man was convicted of spying for Israel and sentenced to 15 years in prison by a special security court on Saturday.
Three Israelis tried in absentia on spying charges also received 15 years in prison. Mohammed el-Attar, 30, who had pleaded not guilty, flashed a victory sign when he entered the courtroom surrounded by dozens of security personnel. El-Attar, who had been on trial since Feb. 24 at the State Security Emergency Court in Cairo, was rushed to a waiting police van after the verdict was issued.
Prosecutors said el-Attar gave a detailed confession admitting that he collected information about Egyptians and Arabs living in Turkey and Canada in return for money from Israel. He also was accused of receiving instructions from the three Israelis, said to be intelligence officers, to recruit Christian Egyptian immigrants in Canada using money and sex.
The defendant, who was born in Egypt and has Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, told the court he confessed because he was tortured with electricity. Prosecutor Hani Hamoodah insisted the defendant made the confession of his own free will.
El-Attar, a former student at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, was arrested on Jan. 1 as he arrived in Egypt to visit family.
His purported confession claimed he fled Egypt in 2001 and sought asylum with the U.N. refugee agency offices in Turkey after he was sentenced to three years in prison for issuing a bad check. It also alleged el-Attar converted to Christianity in Istanbul and was then sent to Canada, where he spied on Christian Egyptians.
El-Attar’s defense lawyer, Ibrahim el-Basyuni, has denied el-Attar converted or that he received any money from Israel, saying his client supported himself by working in a bank in Canada.