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Source: Egypt Interrogating Arrested Israeli

Egyptian prosecutors are interrogating 24-year-old Andrei Pashnichikov who is suspected of espionage, a judicial source says.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/2/2013, 6:27 AM

Egyptian soldier stands guard at the Taba crossing between Egypt and Israel
Egyptian soldier stands guard at the Taba crossing between Egypt and Israel
AFP photo

Egyptian prosecutors were interrogating on Tuesday an Israeli man in the Red Sea port of Nuweiba who is suspected of espionage, a judicial source told AFP.

"An Israel man was arrested on Monday in Taba on suspicion of espionage. He was remanded today in police custody for four days pending investigation," the source told the news agency.

The suspect "infiltrated into Egypt through a mountainous area near Taba," the source added, without elaborating.

The suspect arrested in Taba has been identified by Israeli media as 24-year-old Andrei Pashnichikov. Reports on Monday had indicated that he has been in Egyptian custody since December 29.

An Egyptian official told the Reuters news agency on Monday that Pashnichikov was arrested after taking photographs of security equipment and speaking to drivers about the Sinai Peninsula.

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 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.

The Maariv daily reported that Pashnichikov had tried to revoke his Israeli citizenship and in court said "that he did not recognize either the State of Israel or the Zionist establishment."

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP that there had so far been no formal notification from Egypt that any Israeli had been arrested there.

"We have asked the Egyptians for information," he said. "We are waiting to hear officially from the authorities what they suspect him of and what they intend to do. On that basis we shall know what we can do."