Avigdor Lieberman denied on Tuesday that Ilan Grapel, a dual US and
Israeli citizen arrested in Egypt on suspicion of espionage, is a spy.
is a student, perhaps a little strange or a little careless. He has no
connection to any intelligence apparatus, not in Israel, not in the US
and not on Mars," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on
'Foreign Ministry looking into identity of alleged
US: We are providing help to alleged Mossad spy in Egypt
is a mistake or strange behavior by the Egyptians. They have received
all the clarifications and I hope the whole story will end quickly,"
On Sunday, Egyptian Judge Hesham Badawi of the supreme state security prosecution ordered Grapel to be detained
for 15 days on suspicion of "spying on Egypt with the aim of harming
its economic and political interests," MENA news agency reported, while
claiming that Grapel worked for the Mossad.
foreign minister refused to comment on reports
circulating about Grapel and his connections to the Israeli intelligence
network in Egypt, saying "I don't read newspapers, and therefore I
don't know what the reports said."
Lieberman added that Israel is seeking to solidify relations with the new
Egyptian government, saying that "we definitely want to institutionalize
relations with the new regime in Egypt."
Also on Tuesday, the international
non-profit The Israel Project confirmed that an intern
named Ilan Grapel had worked for the organization, but said they could
not confirm if that same Grapel was the alleged Israeli spy arrested in Egypt on Sunday.
Ilan Grapel, a US citizen from Queens, New York then attending Johns
Hopkins University, was one of 10 student summer interns who worked for
us in 2008. Since completing his internship, he has had no further
contact with our organization. We are unable to confirm that this is
the same person. We have no further comment at this time," Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Founder and President of The Israel Project said.
In Cairo, preliminary Egyptian investigations revealed that Grapel had met with a number of journalists and intellectuals in cafes in central Cairo prior to his arrest, Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Tuesday.
He allegedly had bought an Egyptian flag, and joined protesters in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, the site of heavy protests that led to the ouster of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Al-Masry Al-Youm said.
Investigations say that Grapel was contacted by the Mossad when he entered Egypt on his American passport, and allegedly asked him to collect information on the separate groups participating in the so-called January 25 Revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Coptic Christians, and the Supreme Council of the revolution.
He reportedly asked demonstrators in Cairo what they sought to achieve in their protests, and incited them against the Egyptian military council.
The report added that six others have been arrested in connection to an alleged "spy network."
On Monday, former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor)
criticized the Egyptian security forces over Grapel's arrest, calling them
Speaking to Israel Radio, Ben-Eliezer said that the ordeal was the
government's attempt to win favor with the Egyptian people by showing their insistence on