Andrei Pashnichikov, the Israeli who has been imprisoned in Egypt since Friday, was arrested after taking photographs of security equipment, an Egyptian official said on Monday.
The official told the Reuters news agency that the 24-year-old was detained in the Taba region of the Sinai Peninsula after he snuck through a border crossing and took photographs of security property and talked to drivers.
The official said Pashnichikov is now being interrogated by Egyptian state security.
Security sources in the Sinai told the news agency that the Israeli had been gathering information about Sinai from drivers in the area near the Taba border crossing between Egypt and Israel.
Earlier, another official told the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper that Pashnichikov entered Egyptian territory without the necessary documents to prove that he had legally entered the country and is therefore considered an infiltrator.
Other reports indicated that Pashnichikov had snuck into Egypt with the intention of reaching Gaza so he could join Hamas and fight against IDF soldiers.
The Israeli media portrayed Pashnichikov on Monday night as a “peace activist” who had strong contacts with Palestinian Authority Arabs in Gaza, and with Egyptians. According to Israeli sources, Pashnichikov had applied for a visa to Egypt and was granted one, but when he tried to cross into Sinai at the Taba crossing south of Eilat, he was refused entry by Egyptian border officials.
In interviews with Israeli media Monday night, Pashnichikov's mother said that her son was a “peace activist,” who had many contacts in the PA and had worked on numerous projects to encourage “co-existence.”
However, sources told Arutz Sheva that Pashnichikov was identified with radical leftist and anarchist groups, and that he was headed to Gaza in order to assist Arab terrorists there to fight Israel.
"I am worried and praying, they barely let him talk to me," the mother told Channel 10 News. "He called from Egypt and said he was in jail, and that's it. I do not know what to do, I am asking the State - help my son, he is an Israeli citizen. I worry about him and am praying for his safety all day long."
The Foreign Ministry said Monday night that they were in contact with Egyptian officials and were trying to sort out the matter, in the hope that they could bring Pashnichikov back to Israel.