Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Egyptian Charged of Spying for Israel Gets Life Sentence

CAIRO, Egypt -- A state security court sentenced an Egyptian nuclear engineer to life in prison Monday after convicting him of spying for Israel, a court official said.

Mohammed Sayed Saber, 35, an employee with Egypt's atomic agency, had been charged with harming the country's national security by giving stolen documents to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, in exchange for $17,000.

Two others, one Japanese and one Irish, who were tried in absentia on spying charges also received life imprisonment, the court official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Israel has dismissed allegations that Saber was working for Mossad.

The defendant appeared in a white prison jumpsuit, smiling and flashing a victory sign to the media, which crammed into the court room. After hearing the verdict, Saber remained calm, but his mother and wife broke into tears. The court session lasted less than five minutes.

Heavy security forces were deployed inside and outside the courtroom, and dozens surrounded the wife and mother to block the media from speaking to them.

Saber was arrested Feb. 18 after he returned to Egypt from Hong Kong, where the prosecution has said he used to meet agents working for Israel.

During the first court session, Saber stunned the judge by praising Israel's advanced technology and claimed he handed over outdated documents that posed no threat to Egyptian security.

Saber has claimed that just before his arrest in February, he informed the Egyptian Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, of his actions. He had been in Saudi Arabia since 2000 on a sabbatical from the atomic agency.

One of Saber's defense lawyers, Adel Aziz, said before that he believed in his client's innocence as he had alerted the Egyptian authorities about his actions.