Egyptian security sources said Monday night that 24-year-old Israeli national Andre Pshenichnikov, who has been held in the country since Friday, took photographs of security property in the Sinai Peninsula and tried to gather information from drivers in the area near the Taba border crossing between Egypt and Israel.
Egyptian security sources said the Israeli national was taken to the Nuweiba area in Sinai, where he was being questioned.
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"The Israeli officer was arrested by national security forces on December 29. State security is now interrogating him," a national state security officer told Reuters.
Another security official told the Al-Ahram newspaper entered Egypt without proper documentation and was therefore considered an infiltrator. "The interrogations will reveal the motive behind his infiltration," the official said.
Earlier Monday, an Egyptian security official told Reuters that Pshenichnikov, a Bat Yam resident, was trying to reach the Gaza Strip through Sinai to fight alongside Palestinians.
Egypt is trying to reassert control over the Sinai which has suffered from lax security since the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
The Foreign Ministry has confirmed that an Israeli citizen was being held in Egypt and said it was looking into the matter.
Pshenichnikov's mother, Svetlana, told Ynet: "He was planning to meet up with some friends of his in Cairo after coming back from France about a month ago. He eventually got his visa from Egypt and a week ago went to Eilat and tried to cross the border to Egypt legally.
"The police there arrested him, claiming that he was trying to cross the border illegally. He was tried in Eilat and was told he could be released if he signed a document by which he vowed not to go to Egypt. He refused, so they took both his Russian and his Israeli passports and let him go.
According to Pshenichnikov's mother, he was then planning to stay in Eilat, but the next day called her and told her that he was detained in Taba. "They wouldn’t let me talk to him that much; his voice was fine, and he said that the conditions were fine, but I'm afraid that he's lying to keep me from worrying too much."
The mother told Ynet that her son, a computer technician, was living with her and her husband in Bat Yam. She claimed he was an "activist for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which is very dangerous. He's been arrested before, so I took all my money and bought him a ticket to Paris. He just came back recently."
Reuters contributed to the report