Egypt has uncovered a spy ring that included two Israelis and an Egyptian businessman helping them recruit operatives working for telecoms companies, according to a government official and state security documents.
"State security prosecutors have announced a spying network that included an Egyptian and two Israelis," said Hicham Badawi, an attorney in the Egyptian state security service.
According to a document shown to reporters by Badawi on Monday, security officials arrested the 37-year-old Egyptian, the owner of an import-export firm, in August on charges of spying for Israel in cooperation with the two Israelis, who had already left Egypt.
It alleged the Egyptian accepted $37,000 in exchange for providing them with information about Egyptians working in telecommunications companies who could be recruited by the spy ring in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
"The general prosecutor ordered the transfer of three accused persons, who included two Israeli fugitives and one detained Egyptian, to be sent ... before the emergency state security supreme criminal court on the charges of spying for Israel and harming the country's national interests," Egypt's state news agency MENA reported.
Israel denied knowledge of the case. "We are not familiar with the charges," said Israeli Foreign Ministry Yigal Palmor. "We will have to look into it in order to understand what this is all about."
Earlier an Egyptian security official said four locals were arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel and plotting to kidnap of tourists to harm Egypt's economy.
The official revealed that the four suspects allegedly set up offices in Egypt, Britain, Israel, and Gaza to record officials' phone conversations and collect information about Japanese and Chinese tourists visiting the Sinai Peninsula.
The plan, according to the official, was for agents of Israel to then briefly kidnap the tourists, disrupting the Egypt's vital tourism sector and damaging the economy.
Detained since May, the suspects have given detailed confessions about the case and authorities have notified Interpol about the two Israeli officers working as their handlers, the official said.
The suspects are facing charges of espionage and forming a terrorist cell.
AP contributed to this report