(photo credit: Channel 10 News)
- Egypt said on Thursday it was preparing to swap US-Israeli dual
national Ilan Grapel, who was detained in June on spying charges, for
Egyptian prisoners held in Israel.
Grapel, 27, was arrested in
Egypt on accusations he was a spy out to recruit agents and monitor
events in the revolt that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak, an ally of
both the United States and Israel. Grapel has not faced trial yet.
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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called on Egypt this month to release
Grapel but denied he was involved in direct negotiations over the
"In response to the demands of the families of Egyptian prisoners held
in Israel, the cabinet has decided that the Foreign Ministry coordinate
with all the concerned security entities to take the necessary steps to
return those prisoners to their homeland," cabinet spokesman Mohamed
"This includes the exchange of the accused Ilan Grapel with those prisoners and taking the necessary legal steps involved."
An Egyptian security source said earlier this week that such a deal was
expected. Media reports said more than 80 Egyptian prisoners in Israel
would be involved in the exchange.
Grapel's mother said at the time of his arrest that her son, a law
student in the United States, was working for Saint Andrew's Refugee
Services, a non-governmental organization, in Cairo.
Grapel emigrated to Israel in 2005 from New York and served in the IDF during the 2006 Lebanon War.
Over the years, Egypt has arrested a number of people accused of spying for Israel.