Egyptian official: Prisoner swap for Grapel to go forward
Swap would take place after Israel completes separate prisoner exchange with Hamas involving Gilad Shalit, but the two cases are not linked, source tells Reuters.
CAIRO - Egypt expects to swap U.S.-Israeli dual national Ilan Grapel, detained in June on spying charges, for Egyptian prisoners held in Israel, an Egyptian security source said on Monday.
The swap would take place after Israel completes a separate prisoner exchange with Hamas involving Gilad Shalit, but the two cases are not linked, the source told Reuters.
"After the Shalit deal is done, there will be an arrangement to swap Grapel for a number of Egyptian prisoners in Israeli prisons," the source said. "But the two deals are separate and not linked."
The United States embassy in Cairo had no immediate comment on the Grapel case. 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.
He has not faced trial yet. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called on Egypt this month to release Grapel but denied he was involved in direct negotiations over the matter.
Egyptian security at the time also denied there were any negotiations over his release.
Grapel's mother said at the time 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 its military in the 2006 Lebanon war.
Over the years, Egypt has arrested a number of people accused of spying for Israel.
In 2007, Egypt convicted a 31-year-old Egyptian-Canadian dual national of spying for Israel.
Three Israelis were charged in absentia. Israel dismissed the case as a fabrication.
In 1996, Egypt sentenced Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Arab textile worker, to 15 years in jail for spying for Israel. Egypt said Azzam had passed messages in women's underwear using invisible ink.
Both Azzam and Israel denied the charges.
He was released after serving eight years as part of a deal that included the release of six Egyptian students in Israel.