Egypt refuses to release 5 convicted spies in Israel prisoner swap

Egypt has refused to release five Israelis convicted of espionage as part of the prisoner swap deal to be implemented with Israel, Israeli radio said.

Egypt has decided to keep the five spies for future negotiations, Israeli radio said, quoting informed Egyptian sources.

The five prisoners include Awada Trabin, a Bedouin who has been in prison in Egypt for 11 years for spying for Israel, as well as Jordanian national Bashar Abu Zeid.

One of Trabin's lawyers had said during a radio interview that Israeli authorities hinted to Trabin's family that undeclared efforts are being made for his release.

On Monday, Israel said it had reached an agreement with Egypt over the release of 27-year-old Ilan Grapel, an Israeli-American held in Cairo since June on espionage charges, in return for 25 Egyptian prisoners in Israel. An Israeli official said the swap will probably take place on Thursday.

Egyptian authorities detained Grapel in June, accusing him of recruiting spies and monitoring the popular protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in February.

In a regional tour earlier this month, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta reportedly asked Egypt to free Grapel, but denied negotiating for Grapel's release.

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