Egyptian lawyer who 'spoke Hebrew' suspected of espionage

Alexandria attorney arouses local authorities' suspicion after he is overheard speaking Hebrew at Internet café

An Egyptian attorney was arrested in Alexandria on suspicion of spying for Israel and other countries. Local media reported Saturday that Iman Muhammad Matwali Mawad aroused the suspicion of local authorities after he was overheard speaking Hebrew in public areas. His remand has been extended.


General Amin Ezz al-Din, Alexandria's head of security, said the attorney would sit in Internet cafes and hold conversations in Hebrew. According to the local authorities, residents of the Egyptian city began to suspect him following a conversation he conducted in Hebrew with a female acquaintance who resides in Italy.


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General Ezz al-Din said Mawad was detained after residents who sat in the same Internet café informed police of his conversations in Hebrew. A background check revealed that the attorney has more than 100 Israeli friends on Facebook, said the general.


During his interrogation, the attorney explained that he is an advocate of normalizing relations between Israel and Egypt and his goal in contacting Israelis was to assess the mood in the neighboring Jewish state.


The suspect said his dream was to work as a journalist for an Israeli radio station that broadcasts in Arabic. The lawyer studied Hebrew, partly with the help of a computer program. Security forces in Alexandria sent the memory cards of his laptop computer and cell phone for further examination.


Meanwhile, Egypt reopened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday after four days of it being closed, allowing stranded passengers to cross in and out of the Palestinian territory that is controlled by the Islamist Hamas group.


Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, has ruled Gaza since 2007 and has an uneasy relationship with Egypt's new army-backed leadership, which toppled the elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, a Hamas ally, last month.


Thousands of Palestinians, including students and patients seeking medical treatment, have been unable to travel to Egypt since the Rafah border crossing was shut and hundreds wanting to return home have been stranded outside the Gaza Strip.


Reuters contributed to the report



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פרסום ראשון: 08.24.13, 18:28
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