In the second spy case of its kind since the beginning of the year, Egyptian authorities announced on Tuesday that a nuclear engineer at the country’s Atomic Energy Agency has been charged with handing information over to Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad.
Israel denied the allegations, saying similar reports about alleged Israeli spies have proven unfounded.
“We’ve heard about this from the media. These sort of charges unfortunately appear all too often in the Egyptian media and they always prove to be baseless,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev.
Egypt's State Security Prosecutor Hisham Badawi announced that two foreign nationals, Japanese and an Irishman, were wanted in connection with the case but remained at large. He said the three were conspiring to harm Egypt’s national security.
Badawi identified the Egyptian engineer as Mohammad Sayed Saber, 35, who was arrested earlier this year.
According to Badawi, the Egyptian engineer, who faces the death sentence if convicted, stole “important documents” from his workplace at Inshas, the site of one of Egypt's small research nuclear reactors, and handed them over to his handlers in return for $17,000.
Saber was arrested by Egyptian security forces on February 18 when he returned to Cairo from one of several trips to Hong Kong, where he had been meeting since 2004 with the two foreigners: Brian Peter, an Irishman and Shiro Izo of Japan.
“The first accused (Saber) said that he understood from the course of these meetings that the company was only a front for the activity of Israeli intelligence,” Badawi said.
Their meetings were suspicious causing the Egyptian government to take action.
In January, Mohammad el-Attar, who also holds Canadian citizenship, was arrested on charges of spying for Israel.
In 2002, an Egyptian court found Sherif al-Filali, an Egyptian engineer, guilty of spying for Israel, and sentenced him to 15 years in prison with hard labor.
Both men have denied the charges.