JERUSALEM (JTA) — Egypt reportedly will release Ilan Grapel, the dual U.S.-Israeli citizen arrested in Egypt on spying charges.
Grapel will be released to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta following his visit to Egypt this week, the Britain-based Arab daily Al-Hayat newspaper reported Sunday.
Over the weekend, the Egyptian news service MENA reported that the United States had offered Egypt additional aid and political support in exchange for Grapel’s release. Grapel’s parents and U.S. consul general to Egypt Roberto Powers reportedly visited him Saturday in an Egyptian prison.
Grapel is a New Yorker who moved to Israel following his graduation from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He joined the Israeli army, served as a paratrooper during the Second Lebanon War and was wounded in Southern Lebanon in August 2006.
Egyptian security officials said Grapel entered the country shortly after the start of the Jan. 25 uprising that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and posed as a foreign correspondent.
A law student at Emory University, Grapel allegedly said he was Muslim on the visa application that he filed with the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv and then entered Egypt using his American passport.
Grapel denies he is a spy. He says he came to Egypt to intern for a nongovernmental organization that assists refugees from Sudan and elsewhere. Friends of Grapel told The Jerusalem Post that Grapel was an Arabist and liked spending time in Egypt.