Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Court Stunned By Admiration For Israel

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

An Egyptian engineer, charged with selling classified information to Israeli intelligence with the aim of harming national security, stunned a courtroom Tuesday by openly praising Israel's achievements in science and technology:
Mohammed Sayed Saber, 35, a nuclear engineer with Egypt's atomic agency, has been charged with stealing secret documents and giving them to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, in exchange for $17,000 and with the aim to harm Egyptian national security, the prosecutor said. An upbeat Saber appeared before the judge in a white prison jumpsuit at the start of his trial Tuesday, smiling and flashing a victory sign to media crammed into a dusty Cairo courtroom.

''I don't hide my admiration of Israel ... It has reached a very high technological and scientific level,'' Saber said in court. ''To seek to benefit from Israel scientific expertise, is not shameful or wrong ... They are a very organized and pragmatic society with definite goals, unlike chaotic societies.'' ''I don't have animosity toward the Israeli people, why should I? The fact that we had wars against Israel doesn't mean that we remain enemies forever,'' added Saber, who has never visited the Jewish state.

The hearings were adjourned till June 9. Saber, who faces up to 25 years in jail on espionage charges, did not enter a plea Tuesday.

Saber's pro-Israeli speech was so unusual that Judge Mohammed Reda Shwakat, presiding over the three-judge panel at south Cairo state security court, called him from the defendant's cage to the bench where he then questioned him for almost four hours in the presence of three defense lawyers.

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