(photo credit: Channel 10 News)
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was making his way to Cairo on Tuesday in attempts to help free imprisoned US-Israeli Ilan Grapel, who was being held in Egypt on charges of espionage for Israel, AFP reported.
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Speaking to the press in Tel Aviv on Monday, Panetta failed to confirm reports that Grapel would be released in the coming days, or during the US defense secretary's visit to Cairo.
Egyptian media sources speculated Tuesday that Israel may release a number of Egyptian prisoners in exchange for the release of Grapel, Israeli Arabic-language daily A-Shams
reported, but that report could not be confirmed.
Egyptian "security expert" Maj.-Gen. Sameh Seif Yazal said that Egypt would request the release of Sheikh Amr Abd al Rahman who is imprisoned in the US, and may request the release of other Egyptian prisoners in the US and in Israel, Egyptian newspaper A-Sharouk
Yazal denied, however, explicit US pressure to release Grapel, adding that if the US had pressured Cairo then the alleged spy's release would have happened earlier and not months following his detention.
Yazal also criticized US Congressman Gary Ackerman's offer of more US aid in exchange for Grapel's release, telling an Egyptian TV such comments to Cairo were "not permissible."
The offer, Yazal said, has been rejected.
On Saturday, Egypt said it is considering granting the release of Ilan Grapel, a dual US-Israeli citizen arrested in June on suspicion of being a Mossad spy.
"Cairo is considering the release of Ilan Grapel, a US citizen accused of spying for Israel during the 25 January revolution, especially after promises from the US of offering more political and economic support in return," AFP quoted Egypt's official news agency as saying.
According to the report, Grapel's parents were allowed to visit him on Saturday for the first time, along with US consul-general to Egypt, Robert Powers.
Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm
reported earlier on Saturday that US Congressman Gary Ackerman had called for the release of Grapel in exchange for more aid to Egypt.
Grapel interned for Ackerman, whose office is near his home in Queens, in the summer of 2002.
Grapel was arrested at his downtown Cairo hotel by Egyptian state
security officers in June on suspicion of working for Israeli
intelligence to foment sectarian strife and gather intelligence on