Egypt reportedly ready to free Ilan Grapel in prisoner swap with Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Egypt will reportedly release dual American-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel in a prisoner exchange deal with Israel.

The swap will occur after the Israel-Hamas prisoner swap to free captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, which is scheduled to take place Tuesday, the Egyptian Ahram online newspaper reported Sunday, citing an unnamed Egyptian security source.

Grapel, who Egypt accuses of being a spy, will be released in exchange for 81 Egyptians being held in Israel on charges such as trying to illegally cross into the country, murder, drug trafficking, illegal residency and holding unlicensed weapons, according to Ahram. Three of the Egyptians held are under the age of 14, Ahram reported. 

Grapel has not yet been indicted, and his detention was extended recently by 45 days.

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.

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.

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