Egypt court jails Israeli for two years: court sources

CAIRO Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:39am EST

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CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced an Israeli man to two years in prison for crossing illegally into the Sinai peninsula, court sources said on Tuesday.

Egypt said in December it had arrested the man after he slipped into the Sinai's Taba region and took photographs of security buildings.

State media at that time identified the man, Andrei Pshenichnikov, as a 24-year-old army officer. Israeli media said he was a civilian and a pro-Palestinian activist.

The ruling by the court in the Nuweiba area of Sinai was issued on Monday.

The court sources said Pshenichnikov had not given a convincing explanation for why he crossed into Egypt illegally when he could have entered as a tourist.

Sinai has suffered from lax security since Egypt's 2011 uprising, which overthrew President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt regained the peninsula, which Israel occupied during a 1967 war, after the two signed a peace deal in 1979.

The two countries have maintained an uneasy peace since then, and their relations have been marred by several high-profile cases in which Egyptian authorities accused Israel of espionage.

Israeli tourists have continued to holiday in the Sinai, although in lower numbers since a spate of bomb attacks on resorts from 2004 to 2006.

(Reporting by Yousri Mohamed; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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