CAIRO: A state security court sentenced the Canadian-Egyptian citizen, Mohammed Essam Ghoneim Al-Attar, to 15 years in prison after finding him guilty of spying for Israel. Three Israelis, said to be Mossad agents, were tried in absentia and also received 15 years each.
Al-Attar was arrested upon arriving in Cairo airport on Jan. 1 of this year, and by the time his detention was made public some weeks later, he had confessed to spying on Arabs living in Turkey and Canada, as well as trying to recruit Christian Egyptians in Canada using money and sex.
Prosecutors accused Al-Attar of having been recruited by Israeli intelligence while living in Turkey, and alleged that they had assisted him in obtaining a Canadian residency permit and finding him work in a bank.
In its ruling, the court said: He let himself be seduced by Satan, disregarding his country s values and selling himself and his country to the devil.
The defendant s lawyer Ibrahim Basyouni maintains that Al-Attar, who pleaded not guilty, confessed under duress while being interrogated, and Al-Attar had told the court in an earlier session that his confession was made after he was subjected to electric shock.
Al-Attar, a former student at Al-Azhar University, waved a victory sign upon entering the court room, and was rushed to a waiting police van immediately after the verdict was announced.
Cairo-based Canadian diplomats, who attended the trial, had been providing Al-Attar with assistance, facilitating communication between him and the Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa, Canada, as well as Al-Attar s flatmate, over a series of visits.
Catherine Gagnaire, spokeswoman for the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department, told The Daily Star Egypt: We are reviewing the judgment and we will have an official reaction in due course.
The Israeli Department of Foreign Affairs had earlier dismissed the case as a fabrication
Following the sentence Basyouni told assembled media: “I was convinced [Al-Attar] would be acquitted…They had no concrete evidence against the defendant.
“The judge is human, and humans are prone to error, he said, restating that his client s confession was extracted under torture.
Basyouni also accused Egyptian media of distorting the facts and trying to influence public opinion.
The state security court verdict cannot be appealed and the conviction can only be overturned by a presidential pardon, which Basyouni said the defence would apply for.