Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

 

Turkey recruitment

 

The government announced on Saturday that it was charging Attar with conspiring to "harm Egypt's national interests" following his alleged recruitment by three Israelis while visiting Turkey in 2001 to spy on the Egyptian community abroad.

 

Israel confirmed it was the subject of espionage allegations in Egypt but did not provide further details.

 

According to prosecutors with the Emergency State Security Court that will be trying Attar and presumably the Israelis if they are arrested, the 31-year-old former al-Azhar student travelled to Turkey in 2001 and then offered his services to the Israeli embassy there.

 

Attar was then trained by the Mossad officers to gather information from Arabs living in Turkey - an activity he later continued when he moved to Canada, where he obtained citizenship.

 

Attar was visiting his family in Egypt when he was arrested at the airport on January 1.

 

Bribery charges

 

According to Egypt's official MENA news agency, investigators allege that Attar received at least $56,000 in return for working with the Israelis, part of which he used to purchase a Mercedes car when he moved to Canada.

 

Like Attar, the Israelis are charged with bribery and espionage.

 

Monday's Egyptian press was filled with lurid details of the case, including accusations that Attar was a homosexual and alienated from Egyptian society.

 

The last major spy case to erupt between the two countries was in 1996 when Israeli Arab Azzam Azzam, who worked for a textile company, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for espionage, partly carried out by writing messages in invisible ink on lingerie.

 

Azzam was released after eight years as part of a prisoner exchange for Egyptian students who had allegedly crossed into Israel to carry out attacks.