Report about Israeli Egyptian agreement on release of convicted Israeli spy denied
Egyptian and Israeli sources denied on Saturday reports that Egyptian sailors that had been detained by Israel onboard the Karine A weapons ship in January would be released in exchange for the release of Israeli citizen Azzam Azzam, who is behind bars in Egypt on charges of spying for Israel.
Reports of the agreement were published Saturday in the Qatari daily A-Sharq.
Additionally, Al-Hayat daily published Friday that according to sources in the Egyptian capital, Israel admitted that the nine Egyptian sailors arrested onboard the Karine A were not involved in the attempt to smuggle weapons to the Palestinian Authority, but noted that Israel had in recent months tried to tie the release of the nine sailors to the release of Azzam Azzam.
According to Egyptian sources, Cairo had insisted that the release of the nine sailors be "unconditional."
Israeli Druze Azzam Azzam, aged 39, from the village of Mghar, was arrested in Egypt in November 1996 on suspicion of spying for the Jewish state.
Azzam worked at the Cairo branch of an Israeli-Egyptian textile factory. In April 1997 a trial was launched against Azzam and in September of the same year he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and manual labor after being convicted of spying for Israel and harming Egypt's national interests. (Albawaba.com)
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