Four local citizens were arrested on suspicion of spying and plotting to kidnap tourists in a scheme to jeopardize Egypt’s economy.

According to an official Egyptian report released on Sunday, the four Egyptian citizens set up offices in Egypt, Britian, Isarel and Gaza in an operation aimed at recording official’s phone conversations and gathering information about Asian tourists specifically from Japan and China who visit the Sinai Peninsula.

An Egyptian security official told media sources that the suspects had planned to supply Israeli officers with information that would help them orchestrate a brief abduction of these tourists. The operation’s objective was to destabilize security and tourism in the Sinai Peninsula and damage the Egyptian economy.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yigal Palmor has told the press that the Israeli government has no information about the case.

The suspects have been detained since May and have since given detailed confessions about their activities and identified the two Israeli officers who recruited them. Interpol has been alerted and asked to issue warrants for their arrest.

The suspects are currently facing charges of espionage, recording telephone calls without permission and forming a terrorist cell designed to upsetting public order.

The Egyptian official spoke to the press on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media. Reports of the arrests have appeared in numerous local newspapers.

The arrests come just as the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak publically condemned Israel’s “stubbornness” which he claims has lead to a stalemate in peace negotiations with Palestinians.