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Egypt court jails Israeli for 2 years, court sources say

Feb. 12, 2013 5:07 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 13, 2013 9:46 A.M.)
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.

Pshenichnikov briefly lived in a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem last year, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

He told the paper that he had moved to Duheisha camp to become part of the "political struggle for Palestinian rights," and had tried to renounce his Israeli citizenship.

The former soldier, born in the Soviet Union, was eventually arrested by the Palestinian Authority on Israel's request.

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.

Ma'an staff in Bethlehem contributed to this report.
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