Egyptian-Canadian sentenced to 15 years for espionage

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A map showing the location of Egypt
A map showing the location of Egypt

Mohammed Essam Ghoneim el-Attar, an Egyptian-Canadian, was sentenced in an Egyptian court to 15 years in prison after being convicted of spying for Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad. In its ruling, the court stated: "He let himself be seduced by Satan, disregarding his country's values and selling himself and his country to the devil." Israel has dismissed the veracity of the case. Mark Regev, a spokesperson for Israel's foreign ministry called the case "a pity".

El-Attar was arrested in January of this year while traveling in Egypt. He has been on trial in Cairo since February 24. Egyptian prosecutors said he began spying for Israel in 2001 when he was living in Turkey. They allege that he used his position at a Canadian bank to spy on Egyptians and Arabs in Turkey and Canada and was paid $56,000 to do so. No appeal will be allowed; the conviction can only be overturned by Egypt's President.

The main evidence used against him was a confession that el-Attar signed after spending three weeks in detention, without access to legal counsel. El-Attar claims that the confession was extracted by torture. He said that authorities gave him electric shocks and forced him to drink his urine. Ibrahim Bassiouni, the defendant's Egyptian lawyer, told the newsmedia that there was "no concrete evidence against the defendant."

Officials from the Canadian Embassy who were at the trial, witnessed the sentencing and will review the verdict.