(photo credit: Channel 10 News)
Israel and Egypt are putting the “finishing touches” on a list of prisoners to
be freed in exchange for American-Israeli Ilan Grapel, Egyptian media revealed
Saturday, though reports differed over the deal’s timing and
Al-Youm al-Sabeh newspaper reported that Yasser Reda – Cairo’s
ambassador to Israel who has been serving as an intermediary between the two
countries on the issue – provided the prisoner list to Egypt’s Foreign Ministry
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Grapel, a law student from Queens, New York, has been
charged with spying, sedition and inciting Egyptians to violence during the
revolution that unseated president Hosni Mubarak. The 27-year-old’s release was
reportedly worked out as part of the deal that brought home
IDF soldier Gilad
Schalit last week after five years in Hamas captivity.
MENA news agency said the deal was in the final stages, but did not indicate when it would be carried out.
“MENA has learned that the final
touches are currently being made to a deal to swap the Israeli Ilan Grapel,
accused of spying on Egypt for Israel, for about 16 Egyptian prisoners and three
detained children,” it said.
State TV, however, said 28 Egyptians would
be released in the exchange.
Last week, Egyptian media reported Cairo was
expecting to receive all 81 Egyptians detained in Israel – most of them on
charges of illegal entry, drug trafficking and arms possession.
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,” Egyptian cabinet spokesman Mohamed Hegazy said
this weekend. “This includes the exchange of the accused Ilan Grapel with those
prisoners and taking the necessary legal steps involved.”
aliya to Israel in 2005 from New York and served in the IDF during the 2006
Lebanon War, where he was wounded in action.
Currently enrolled at Emory
University in Atlanta, Grapel was at the time of his arrest working for Saint
Andrew’s Refugee Services, a non-governmental organization, in
Friends, family and US and Israeli officials have dismissed the
charges against him as “bizarre” and “ludicrous.”