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Egypt Convicts 2 Israelis in Absentia for 'Spying'

Two Israelis were convicted in absentia for spying for Israel by an Egptian court as the Ilan Grapel trial approaches; Egyptian man also convicted.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 6/23/2011, 5:14 PM / Last Update: 6/23/2011, 8:44 PM

An Egyptian court Thursday sentenced two Israelis tried in absentia, and an Egyptian businessman, to life in prison for allegedly spying for Israel, Reuters reports.

Businessman Abdel Rezek Hussein, 37, was arrested by Egyptian authorities in August for suspected involvement in the recruitment of operatives working for telecom firms in three Arab countries.

Hussein was accused of accepting $37,000 in exchange for passing information to Israel about Egyptians working in telecoms who could be recruited to spy in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

The two alleged Mossad operatives, Israelis Idi Moshe and Joseph Dimo, who were never arrented and instead tried in absentia, were also convicted and sentenced by Egypt's emergency state security court, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported.

The case, while separate from the one involving Ilan Grapel, 27, a dual US-Israeli citizen who was detained on June 12 on suspicion of spying, has nonetheless led to speculation that Egypt's interim junta is priming the media well for a speedy show trial.

Israel denies Grapel is a spy.

Many nations, especially Israel and the United States, regard trials in absentia a violation of a defendant's right to due process.

An Established Modus Operandi

Egypt has a history of pursuing showy media trials for people accused of spying for Israel.

In 2007, Egypt convicted a 31-year-old Egyptian-Canadian dual national of spying for Israel. Three Israelis were charged in absentia. Israel dismissed the case as a fabrication.

In 1996, Egypt sentenced Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Druze textile worker, to 15 years in jail for spying for Israel. Egypt accused Azzam of passing coded messages in womens' underwear using invisible ink.

Azzam Azzam was exchanged in 2004 for six egyptian students incarcerated in Israel on suspicion of terror and espionage related activity after serving 8 years of his sentence.

Both Azzam and Israel denied the charges against him.