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World Briefing / Egypt

26 suspected spies are charged

July 27, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Egypt's prosecutor general officially charged 26 suspects, including two Lebanese and five Palestinians, with spying for the militant group Hezbollah, as well as plotting terrorist attacks and aiding militants in the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian security officials had been working on the case, now known in the media as that of "the Hezbollah Cell," since April, when they said they had uncovered Hezbollah plots to destabilize Egypt.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah at the time rejected the accusations, but acknowledged sending an agent to supervise weapon shipments to Hamas in Gaza.

Prosecutor Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud referred the suspects, who also include one Sudanese, to trial in the State Security Emergency Court, a special tribunal where trials are swift and verdicts cannot be appealed. He also called for the immediate arrest of senior Hezbollah official Mohammed Qabalan and three Egyptians, all still at large.

The espionage charges could be punishable by death.

Prosecutor Mahmoud said 18 of the suspects had been providing Hezbollah with information since 2005.

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