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Six Israelis Sentenced As Spies in Egypt 15 Years Ago Living in Israel

Six Israelis who were tried and sentenced to long prison terms as spies in Egypt more than 15 years ago are alive and well and have been living in Israel since shortly after the Six-Day War, it was revealed for the first time today. The six were principals in a sensational espionage case which led to the so-called Lavon Affair and a bitter political feud between former Premier David Ben-Gurion and former Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon. Two of the Israelis. Victor Levi and Phillip Nathanson were sentenced to life imprisonment and the others received sentences of from 7-15 years. None of them escaped from jail. How they managed to reach Israel remains classified information which the authorities will not disclose.

The revelation that the six have been back in Israel for some time and have been rehabilitated and given compensation by the State was made after the presence of one of them, a woman named Marcelle Ninio, was disclosed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. All belonged to an Israeli espionage ring that operated successfully in Cairo during the early 1950s.

The ring was uncovered by Egyptian police in 1954 after an elaborate plot to sour relations between Egypt and the United States backfired. The plans called for sabotage of the US Consulate and the American Cultural Center in Cairo by the Israeli agents which, it was expected, would be blamed on Egyptian radicals and would arouse US opinion against aid to Egypt then being considered by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The plot went awry when an explosive device detonated in Nathanson’s pocket at a Cairo movie house.

Twelve Jews were subsequently arrested and eight were found guilty of espionage. Two of the accused, Dr. Moshe Marzouk, a physician at the Jewish Hospital in Cairo and Shmuel Azzar were sentenced to death and were hanged on Jan. 31. 1955. Levi, a commercial agent and Nathanson, a storekeeper were sentenced to life imprisonment. Miss Ninio and Robert Dassa, who worked as clerks in export firms, were given 15 year sentences. Joseph Zafran, an architect and Meir Mayuhas, a merchant, were sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Two defendants, Dasg el Naim and Cezar Cohen were acquitted. Another Jew arrested. Max Bennett, an Israeli Army officer, committed suicide in his cell. The JTA learned today that his remains were brought to Israel several years ago and reinterred at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl.

It was disclosed today that Miss Ninlo is studying at Tel Aviv University and plans to be married shortly. Nathanson is a press photographer, is married and has one son. Levi has earned an MA at the Rehovot Agricultural Faculty and is teaching at the Hebrew University. He is married, has one child and is expecting another. Dasa is the father of two children and is working for an MA in Oriental studies. Meyuhas is now a successful merchant doing business with African countries. Zafran is an engineer employed by the Haifa municipality and has two children.

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