Egyptian Trial of Israeli Druse on Charges of Spying Opens

The trial of an Israeli citizen on charges of spying opened this week in Cairo.

The Egyptian attorney for Azam Azam, a 35-year-old Israeli Druse from the Galilee, said the charge sheet only mentioned economic espionage, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Other spying charges could carry a sentence of life imprisonment.

When Egyptian authorities arrested Azam in Cairo six months ago, they alleged that he worked for Israeli intelligence and had passed on state secrets.

Azam, the chief mechanic at an Israeli textile firm in Cairo, has been in a Cairo jail since his arrest.

During Thursday’s hearing, Azam denied all the allegations against him.

The court session adjourned shortly after, because the lawyer for an alleged Egyptian accomplice failed to turn up.

The trial will resume next month.

Members of Azam’s family and Israel’s consul general in Cairo were among those present in the courtroom.

The Israeli Embassy in Cairo issued a statement demanding Azam’s release.

Israel has repeatedly denied all allegations against Azam.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, during a joint news conference in March with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he could not intervene in the matter, which he said must be dealt with by the Egyptian judicial system.

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