Israeli diplomatic officials in Cairo met on Tuesday with Ilan Grapel, a dual American- Israeli citizen who was arrested two days earlier for allegedly being a Mossad spy.
The embassy officials said Grapel was in good condition, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said. Israel was continuing to work behind the scenes for his release, the ministry said.
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Earlier on Tuesday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said his office was in contact with the relevant American and Egyptian officials. While Grapel falls under American jurisdiction because he entered Egypt using his US passport, Israeli officials said they consider themselves responsible to help him.
“We are doing what we can,” the ministry spokesman said. “Things are happening behind the scenes on the diplomatic and consular level. There is hope that it will work out.”
Political officials said it was an insult to one’s intelligence to call Grapel a spy.
Channel 2 reported that Israeli officials were working on organizing a visit to Grapel because they wanted to make sure he knows Israel is helping him.
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Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denied that Grapel is a spy.
“This 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,” Lieberman told Army Radio. “This is a mistake, or strange behavior by the Egyptians. They have received all the clarifications and I hope the whole story will end quickly.”
He added that Israel is seeking to solidify relations with the new government in Cairo, saying that “we definitely want to institutionalize relations with the new regime in Egypt.”
On Sunday, Judge Hesham Badawi of the Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered Grapel detained for 15 days on suspicion of “spying on Egypt with the aim of harming its economic and political interests” while working for the Mossad, the MENA news agency reported.
Also on Tuesday, the international non-profit The Israel Project confirmed that an intern named Ilan Grapel had worked for the organization, but said it could not confirm if that Grapel was the man arrested in Egypt.
“Someone named 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,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, said.
Preliminary Egyptian investigations reported that Grapel had met with a
number of journalists and intellectuals in cafes in central Cairo before
his arrest, Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Tuesday.
He allegedly bought an Egyptian flag and joined protesters in the city’s
central Tahrir Square, the site of protests that led to the ousting of
president Hosni Mubarak, the newspaper wrote.
Investigators said that Grapel was allegedly contacted by the Mossad
upon entering Egypt on his American passport and was asked to collect
information on the various groups participating in the “January 25
Revolution” that toppled Mubarak, including the Muslim Brotherhood,
Coptic Christians and the Supreme Council of the Revolution.
Grapel reportedly asked demonstrators in Cairo what they sought to
achieve in their protests, and incited them against the now ruling
Egyptian military council.
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