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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Egypt nuclear engineer gets life
Mohamed Sayed Saber Ali
Mohamed Sayed Saber Ali denied the charge of spying
An engineer at the Egyptian atomic energy agency has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of spying for Israel.

Mohamed Sayed Saber Ali was tried by a state security court for handing over documents in return for $17,000.

Two foreign nationals were given life sentences in their absence.

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has said that although Egypt carries out nuclear research, it does not aim to develop nuclear weapons.

Israel is the only state in the region believed to have a nuclear arsenal, though it does not officially admit to it.

The two men tried in their absence were named as Irishman Brian Peter and Japanese national Shiro Izo. Their whereabouts were not disclosed.

Ali, who was arrested in February, had pleaded not guilty to the charge of spying for Israel. He admitted taking documents from his workplace but he said they had been published and were not secret.

Egypt has a small atomic reactor for research purposes but recently unveiled plans for a civilian nuclear programme.

Israel has denied that the Egyptian engineer was spying for it.

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