An Algerian court on Tuesday sentenced a Liberian national of Lebanese origin to death and another seven African nationals from Guinea and Mali to 10 years in prison over espionage for Israel, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported, citing an Algerian judicial source.
The eight were arrested in an operation carried out by the Algerian police in 2015 in the city of Ghardaia, 600 kilometers south of Algiers, and found with documents and communications equipment related to espionage for Israel, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The verdict confirmed an earlier verdict of the same court last November, and can be appealed before the country's supreme court, according to Anadolu.
The charges included threatening Algerian national security, foreign espionage, and involvement in a criminal group as part of a collective project threatening national security.
"We cannot discuss the verdict of the Algerian judiciary, but this case has an important political dimension, which in any case goes beyond the fate of the defendants, far beyond," Algerian lawyer and criminal law professor Yahia Sharif Mounir, who attended the trial, told Anadolu.
He called the ruling “a political message from the Algerian state that any attempt to spy against it, in particular by Israel, will face the most severe penalties.”
Last January, Algeria claimed it uncovered an international spy network made up of 10 members that was operating for Israel and was based in southern Algeria.
Arab countries often arrest and sentence people who allegedly spied for Israel. In 2015, for an example, an Egyptian court sentenced to jail a man convicted of “spying for Israel” in the Sinai Peninsula.
Courts in Hamas-run Gaza regularly sentence locals to death for spying for Israel, despite the fact that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman placed a moratorium on death sentences.