(photo credit: Channel 10 News)
Ilan Grapel could be released as early as Tuesday, according to Egyptian security sources privy to negotiations to free the 27-year-old law student Cairo suspects of spying for Israel.
According to Israeli media reports, Grapel may be released at the Taba border crossing separating Egypt and Israel near Eilat. The alleged spy will reportedly be released in exchange for all 81 Egyptians currently held in Israeli prisons.
'Cairo wary of Egyptian public's response to Grapel deal'
Israel's ambassador to Egypt Yitzhak Levanon told Army Radio on Monday, "I can only hope that, just as we released Gilad Schalit from his captivity, we will release all the rest."
Grapel, a dual American-Israeli citizen, is a New Yorker who moved to Israel after graduating from Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University. He later joined the Israel Defense Forces 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 Atlanta's Emory University,
Egypt said Grapel entered the country shortly after the start of the
late-January uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak
within weeks. 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 pro-democracy revolution and to intern for a
nongovernmental organization that helps African refugees.
In June US Rep. Gary Ackerman - 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."