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Egyptian-Canadian accused of spying for Israel testifies

An Egyptian-Canadian accused of spying for Israel gave a Cairo court more details of the torture he says he suffered while in custody.

An Egyptian-Canadian accused of spying for Israel has repeated his claim that he was tortured into confessing and gave an Egyptian court more details of the extreme duress hesays suffered while in custody.

During a brief questioning by his defence lawyer onMonday, Mohammed el-Attar told the court he tried to obtain legal counsel on the first day of his detention, but his request was denied, the CBC's Nahlah Ayed reported from Cairo.

"I was pressured psychologically and physically, so that I admit things that I didn't say, and are totally opposite to the truth," he said.

El-Attar, who is a dual citizen of Egypt and Canada, was arrested in January in Cairo and charged with spying. Egyptian authoritiesallege he moved to Canada in 2003 to spy on people of Egyptian and Arab descent. He has denied the charge.

The 30-year-old Toronto resident also told the court he was forced to stand in a container with his hands tied above his head as his interrogators poured scalding water on him.

He said he was told investigators were in a hurry to lay charges after arresting him under emergency laws, which left him with the impression that he had no rights.

Prosecutors also produced a witness Thursday whoapproached el-Attar in the court's prisoner's box and identified him as the man who allegedlyintroduced him to Israeli intelligence agents.

Egyptian officials allege el-Attar worked at an unnamed Toronto bank to obtain information on accounts for Israel, which recruited him while he was living in Turkey in 2001. Prosecutors areseeking a 25-year prison sentence with hard labour for el-Attar.

After his court appearance, el-Attartold CBCNewshe is being treated better now that he is in the custody of Egyptian police. Hehas said in previous interviewsan interrogator forced him to sign a statement aftershocking him with an electrical current and forcing him to drink his own urine.

His defence is expected to finish its arguments on Wednesday.

Rights groups say that in Egypt, torture, including sexual abuse, is routinely conducted in police stations and in the interrogation of prisoners.

The government denies systematic torture but has investigated several officers on allegations of torture. Some were convicted and sentenced to prison.

With files from the Associated Press

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