Report: Israel seeks prisoner exchange for Ilan Grapel

'Al-Akhbar' says Israel looking to release three Egyptian nationals in exchange for Grapel; 'Al-Masry Al-Youm' posts video of Grapel.

June 19, 2011 20:23
2 minute read.
Ilan Grapel in an interview to Channel 10 in 2006

Ilan Grapel_311. (photo credit: Channel 10 News)

Israel is pursuing a prisoner exchange for accused Israeli spy Ilan Grapel, the Egyptian newspaper Al- Akhbar reported on Sunday.

The report said Israel has offered to release three Egyptians recently arrested in Israel in exchange for the 27-year-old American-Israeli dual citizen, who was arrested by Egyptian state security officers at his downtown Cairo hotel last Sunday for allegedly spying for Israeli intelligence.

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US Rep. Ackerman insists Grapel is no Israeli spy
'Grapel spoke Arabic, prayed, supported Egypt uprising'

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry would not comment on the report, but said that Israel “is doing what it can in order to help Grapel, and get him out of Egypt.”

He added that Israeli authorities have no ironclad assessment of when this will take place. He also confirmed that officials from the Israeli Embassy in Cairo visited Grapel last week.

Also on Sunday, Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm posted on its website a video reportedly released by Egyptian state security that purports to show Grapel as he is under surveillance by security officers.

In the video, which includes a dramatic instrumental soundtrack, Grapel can be seen briefly standing outside what the paper says is the Azbakiya police station in Cairo during a violent incident in June in which a microbus driver allegedly died after being tortured by police. The rest of the video posted on the site shows pictures of Grapel which he posted on his Facebook page, including ones from his IDF service.

Egyptian newspaper Al- Ahram reported on Thursday that Grapel could face an indictment this week.

The report added that Grapel had confessed to working for the Mossad to foment sectarian strife and “penetrate” political groups in Egypt for intelligence reports he sent back to Israel.

The same article claimed that Grapel wrote that he was a Muslim on the visa application he filled out at the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv and that he made his way into meetings of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Egyptian parties in order to gather intelligence.

The New York native and Emory University law student went to Cairo this summer while working for a non-profit organization that helps African refugees. His family, friends, and the Israeli government have all denied that he was working as an espionage agent in Egypt.

Most notably, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio last Tuesday that Grapel “is a student, maybe a bit strange or irresponsible; but he has no connection to any intelligence service; not Israeli or American and not on Mars.”

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