Gaza media reported Sunday that an Israeli delegation was in Egypt to discuss the release of an Israeli citizen who was arrested in Sinai last weekend on charges of spying. Andrei Pashnichikov was arrested after taking photographs of security equipment, and has been in prison in Egypt for over a week.
The A-Risala newspaper, considered a mouthpiece for the Hamas terror group, said that the Israeli delegation has been in Egypt for two days, and are conducting negotiations for Pashnichikov's return. So far, the report said, the Israelis have been unsuccessful, and his remand has been extended by another 15 days.
The Israeli media has 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. He then snuck into Sinai, but was returned by Egyptian authorities to Israel. He tried to enter Sinai a third time, this time successfully, but was arrested a short time later by Egyptian police.
In interviews with Israeli media, 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.