Ilan Grapel could be released as early as Tuesday, according to Egyptian
security sources privy to negotiations to free the 27-yearold law student Cairo
suspects of spying for Israel.
The alleged “spy” will reportedly be
released in exchange for all 81 Egyptians currently held in Israeli
'Cairo wary of Egyptian public's response to Grapel deal'
Reuters, citing an Egyptian security source, reported the swap
for Grapel would take place through the Taba border crossing after Israel
completes the prisoner exchange with Hamas for kidnapped soldier Gilad
“After the Schalit deal is done, there will be an arrangement to
swap Grapel for a number of Egyptian prisoners in Israeli prisons,” the source
said. “But the two deals are separate and not linked.”
Secretary Leon Panetta called on Egypt this month to release Grapel but denied
he was involved in direct negotiations over the matter.
at the time also denied there were any negotiations over his
Grapel, a dual American-Israeli citizen, is a New Yorker who
moved to Israel after graduating from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore,
Maryland. He later joined the IDF and served as a paratrooper in the 2006 Second
Lebanon War, in which he was wounded in southern Lebanon. Grapel is
currently enrolled as a law student at Emory University in Atlanta,
Since Israel closed its embassy following its ransacking last
month, there is no significant diplomatic presence in Cairo dealing with the
case, and it is being dealt with for the most part by the US embassy in
Egypt said Grapel entered the country shortly after the start of
the late-January uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak within
Egyptian authorities say that in applying for a visa at the
Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv (an application he filed with his US passport),
Grapel identified himself as a Muslim. Detained in June, Grapel was later
charged with espionage, incitement and the attempted arson of the Interior
Ministry and police headquarters.
Israeli authorities, as well as
Grapel’s friends and family, vehemently deny he is a spy, maintaining that he
traveled to Egypt to experience the country’s prodemocracy revolution and to
intern for a nongovernmental organization that helps African refugees.
June Democratic US Representative Gary Ackerman from New York – for whom Grapel
interned in 2002 – described the law student as “very liberal” and someone who
“wants to help people in Egypt.”
“This is like no good deed goes
unpunished,” Ackerman told The Jerusalem Post. “He’s the most unlikely spy
anybody could ever imagine.”Herb Keinon and Reuters contributed to this