Egyptian sources: Israeli reporter may be tried by military tribunal

Arish–Egyptian military prosecutors were interrogating an Israeli journalist on Tuesday after arresting him at the border as he tried to cross illegally with an African migrant, a security source said, adding the journalist risks a military trial.

Yotam Feldman and the Ghanian were arrested on Sunday along a route used by smugglers who help African migrants into Israel, officials said.

The security source said military prosecutors decided to interrogate Feldman because they had doubts about his account of accompanying the migrant to do a television report for his news channel.

He added that the prosecution would decide whether to commit Feldman, 30, to trial before a military court.  

Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot reported today that Feldman was transferred from Rafah to Arish under heavy security. It also added that the Israeli journalist said he was pleased with the treatment he was getting in Egyptian custody.

The Israeli newspaper suggested that Feldman will be slapped with a fine, and deported to Israel.

According to AFP, the Israeli journalist did not have any identification or money at the time of his arrest.

Israeli daily Haaretz said on Tuesday that Feldman was making a report for Israel’s Channel 10 television on illegal immigration.

Israeli Army and Foreign Ministry officials, Haaretz reported, were negotiating with their Egyptian counterparts to secure Feldman’s release.

Two months ago, two Israeli bicycle riders illegally crossed into Egyptian border territories and were returned a few hours later.

Egyptian authorities, however, often acts sensitively–and, at times, aggressively—to attempts to illegally cross its borders with both Israel and the adjacent Gaza Strip.

In February 2009, Magdy Hussein, head of Egypt’s frozen Islamist Labor Party, was sentenced to two years in jail by an Egyptian military court for illegally crossing into the territory during the assault.

Egypt has a history of trialing Israeli citizens mostly on espionage and drug-related crimes.
In December 2008, an Egyptian criminal court sentenced a 51-year-old Israeli national to five years in jail after he was convicted with smuggling hashish. Nine months earlier, two Israelis were sentenced in absentia for five years as well after they were caught with hashish as they drove from Israel to Sinai.

In 1997, an Egyptian state security court sentenced Azam Azam, an Israeli businessman, to 15 years in prison after convicting him with passing on Egyptian state secrets to Israel. Azam was released in 2004 in exchange for the release of six Egyptian students who are captured by Israeli authorities on allegations that they were plotting to kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers.

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