An Egyptian court has sentenced three Egyptians and six Israelis to life in prison on charges of spying for the Tel Aviv regime.
“North Sinai’s criminal court sentenced each of the nine defendants to life,” a local judicial source, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday.
The verdict, however, is subject to appeal.
The case was launched in 2013, when the Egyptian authorities announced that they had dismantled the nine-member cell tied to the Israeli spy agency Mossad.
The defendants were found guilty of having given Israeli handlers sensitive information on Egypt’s national security and the situation in the volatile Sinai Peninsula.
The nine were further charged with having held meetings with Israelis in exchange for money.
Additionally, the source said that seven of the defendants, including the six Israelis, were tried in absentia.
The sentences were handed down less than a month after Israel's internal spy agency, Shin Bet, confirmed reports that the Israeli ambassador to Egypt had been withdrawn several weeks earlier “due to security concerns.”
Egypt was the first Arab country to recognize Israel after signing a peace treaty with the Zionist regime in 1979.
Although bilateral relations between the two have often been referred to as “a cold peace,” Egypt and Israel enjoy close cooperation on security issues.
Egypt has contributed to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip by regularly demolishing and flooding tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, which have been used by Palestinians to bring basic needs into the coastal enclave.