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Jerusalem - Israel FM: US-Born Israeli Held in Egypt is No Spy

Published on: June 14, 2011 07:30 AM
By: AP
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Ilan Grapel in Tahrir Square carrying a poster which calls US President Barack Obama stupid. Source, Ilan Grapel's Facebook account.Ilan Grapel in Tahrir Square carrying a poster which calls US President Barack Obama stupid. Source, Ilan Grapel's Facebook account.

Jerusalem - Israel’s foreign minister said Tuesday that a U.S.-born Israeli arrested in Egypt on espionage charges is not a spy, offering the first official Israeli comment on the case.

Ilan Grapel, who served in the Israeli army as a paratrooper, “has no connection to any intelligence agency, not in Israel, not in the U.S. and not on Mars,” Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio.

The foreign minister said Grapel’s arrest was a “mistake, or bizarre behavior, on the part of the Egyptians” and said he hoped “this saga will end as soon as possible.” Israel, he added, has sent clarifications to Egypt.

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Grapel’s family and friends say he is a law student in Atlanta with an avid interest in the Mideast — and not a Mossad agent out to sabotage Egypt’s revolution, as Egyptian authorities claim.

Grapel, 27, was arrested Sunday at a hotel in Cairo, where he was working for a legal aid group.

His mother and a fellow student said he arrived in Cairo in May. Egypt says he came in mid-January, just before the protests that toppled longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak began, and accuses him of inciting sedition, spreading rumors, and kindling frictions between protesters and the military that now rules the country.

Grapel was U.S.-born and raised, but his family has Israeli roots and he holds dual American-Israeli citizenship. Like most Israeli citizens, he performed compulsory military service. He was wounded in Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Grapel appears to have been traveling under his real name and made no secret of his Israeli links. His connections to Israel, including his past military service, are easy to find on the Internet, making it questionable that he was an agent of Israel’s spy service.

Grapel’s arrest has set off new fears in Israel that relations with Egypt will sour now that Mubarak has been deposed.

Since Mubarak’s ouster, Egypt’s military rulers have often warned against unspecified “foreign” attempts to destabilize the country. Egypt, like other Arab states, has a long history of blaming internal problems on Israeli saboteurs.

Reflecting the Egyptian interest, Grapel’s case remained on the front pages of most Cairo newspapers Tuesday. Articles were accompanied by photographs of Grapel, including images of him in Arab headdress in front of a pyramid; at the Cairo square that was the epicenter of the revolt that toppled Mubarak; and in an Israeli military uniform.

The independent Al Masry Al Youm daily said he had told investigators the information and the videos found in his possession were available on the Internet and that Israel had no need to send an agent to obtain them.

The semi-official Al-Ahram published a photograph of him in a hospital bed after he was wounded in the Lebanon war. The paper said he entered Egypt for a few days in February, then returned in May. Al Ahram also reported that he tried to enter Libya from Egypt to visit rebel-held areas in the east, but did not say whether he went there or not.


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1

 Jun 14, 2011 at 07:51 AM REBBE Says:

I can't understand why Yidden travel into unstable countries where they are targets. Besides this case, there is the case of the retired Jewish FBI agent Levinson who went to Iran and is still missing, Daniel Pearle who traveled by himself to an insurgent area in Pakistan and was killed, a Jewish American who went to Iraq (after he was warned by the FBI not to stay there) to start a telephone business, and was killed by terrorists, and the Jewish American who went to Cuba, and was sentenced to 15 years for spying. Also, there have been several Jewish corresponents who work for various cable news stations, who have also traveled to Libya and Egypt, and simply don't realize that they are targets of terrorists. During the First Gulf War in 1991, Bob Simon of CBS News was seized and imprisoned by Iraqi soldiers, who beat him and shouted in Arabic "Jahud" (Jew).

2

 Jun 14, 2011 at 10:07 AM MonseyMan Says:

Reply to #1  
REBBE Says:

I can't understand why Yidden travel into unstable countries where they are targets. Besides this case, there is the case of the retired Jewish FBI agent Levinson who went to Iran and is still missing, Daniel Pearle who traveled by himself to an insurgent area in Pakistan and was killed, a Jewish American who went to Iraq (after he was warned by the FBI not to stay there) to start a telephone business, and was killed by terrorists, and the Jewish American who went to Cuba, and was sentenced to 15 years for spying. Also, there have been several Jewish corresponents who work for various cable news stations, who have also traveled to Libya and Egypt, and simply don't realize that they are targets of terrorists. During the First Gulf War in 1991, Bob Simon of CBS News was seized and imprisoned by Iraqi soldiers, who beat him and shouted in Arabic "Jahud" (Jew).

Agreed. thank hasham for the USA everyday

3

 Jun 14, 2011 at 10:15 AM Mark Levin Says:

Ilan Grapel, who served in the Israeli army as a paratrooper, “has no connection to any intelligence agency, not in Israel, not in the U.S. and not on Mars,” Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio.


Well not only is he not part of any "intelligence agency," he seems not to have any intelligence at all!!

4

 Jun 14, 2011 at 10:20 AM kollelfaker Says:

problem here is you have a socialist Arabist Israeli that supports the Arabs over his own people he deserves what he gets

5

 Jun 14, 2011 at 11:49 AM booky Says:

Why was he an oiber chuchem and studied in egypt? And for you Egyptians you had a nice try but now release him.

6

 Jun 14, 2011 at 02:28 PM Chaim_Ben-Yehuda Says:

Reply to #4  
kollelfaker Says:

problem here is you have a socialist Arabist Israeli that supports the Arabs over his own people he deserves what he gets

How on earth did you manage to come to that conclusion?

Do you know the man personally? Have you ever met him?

More to the point, you had no idea who "Ilan Grapel" is or was until you switched on your computer.

7

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