Egypt’s Supreme State Security Criminal Court sentenced on Sunday five defendants to 25 years in jail and another to 15 years on charges of espionage for Iran with the aim of harming Egypt’s military, political, and national interests.
The court decision included a fine of 500 thousand Egyptian Lira (around $30,000) for each defendant, in addition to confiscating their computer, phones, hard discs, documents and papers and being placed under the authority of the General Intelligence.
The defendants are Alaa Moawad, a jailed Al-Azhar professor, who attended the trial on Sunday, in addition to Hassan Derbaghi (fugitive), Mohammed Makari (fugitive), Hamida al-Ansari (fugitive), Karimi Mohsen (fugitive) and Shafii Hussein (fugitive) all five tried in absentia.
Charges against the Egyptian defendants include providing reports to Iran about Egypt's domestic conditions from 2012 to 2016.
"The first defendant committed espionage in favor of a foreign country and those working for it to harm Egypt's military and political positions and its national interests," the prosecution said.
It said the first defendant collaborated with the other defendants, including one responsible for the Egyptian file at the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, to work for the interest of Iran and providing information with the aim of harming Egypt’s interests.
Sunday’s order of the criminal court is still appealable.
Since Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, relations between Egypt and Iran have been tense.
Cairo also condemns Iran's interference in the domestic affairs of Arab states and for its support for the ballistic missile attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels on Saudi Arabia.