Father of Alleged Israeli Spy in Egypt Says Son Entered Country Legally

Ilan Grapel, a young American-Israeli law student, was arrested by Egyptian authorities, who allege that he is a Mossad spy sent to Egypt to 'encourage protesters' and 'spread chaos.'

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Daniel Grapel, the father of the alleged Israeli spy detained in Egypt told Haaretz on Monday that his son entered Egypt legally, while working for the legal department of a refugee assistance organization.

Israel has denied that Ilan Grapel, 28, was a Mossad agent, an accusation that has been launched at him by Egyptian authorities.

Ilan Grapel in Tahrir Square in a picture taken from his Facebook account.

A spokesman for the Egyptian attorney general, Adel al-Saeed said, referring to Grapel: "The spy was encouraging protesters to perform destructive and unlawful acts, and to form a divide between the army and the people, in order to spread chaos and create a security vacuum."

Speaking about the accusations to Haaretz, Grapel's father said that that "99 percent of what has been published about my son is made up." Referring to one claim, the senior Grapel said, "he had a satellite phone like I'm an astronaut."

Daniel Grapel said his son was a law student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and was on a three-month, university-sponsored accredited program to help refugees. Last summer, Ilan Grapel had participated in the same program for a summer in Israel, at the Supreme Court.

Grapel said his son, who has dual citizenship, had entered Egypt legally, working for the legal department of a refugee assistance organization.

"The fact that they said he's from the Mossad - they could say he's from another planet and it would be just as reliable," the elder Grapel said.

Daniel Grapel said the family had left Israel in 1974 after the Yom Kippur War, and that Daniel had returned many times and had joined the Israel Defense Forces after college "to do the strongest and most dangerous thing possible." Grapel said Ilan had been wounded in the Second Lebanon War but had completed his service in the paratroops.

Grapel said he did not want Israeli intervention, and that he "just wanted the Americans to do what they needed to." He said Emory University and local politicians were also involved.

The American consul in Cairo met with Ilan Grapel on Monday, the Israel Foreign Ministry said.

Grapel said that when he spoke with his son in the phone call arranged by the American consul in Cairo, Ilan had not sounded stressed.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Grapel had entered Egypt on his American passport and that is why the Egyptian authorities contacted the American Embassy in Cairo and not the Israeli Embassy.

A source in the Foreign Ministry said that after it had made a few requests from the Egyptian authorities for information, the Israeli Embassy realized that the Egyptians were handling the matter through the American Embassy. The Foreign Ministry had therefore decided to obtain updates from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the State Department in Washington.

The Egyptian media reported the visit by the American consul, and said that Egypt wanted to show that it respected the suspect's rights and that he was being treated fairly.

The Egyptian general prosecution for state security is to continue questioning Grapel on Tuesday.

According to the Egyptian media, Grapel entered Egypt on a fake visa from a European county posing as a journalist working for an unnamed American newspaper, and that Grapel was in touch with foreign reporters.

The Egyptian online newspaper "The Seventh Day," said on Monday that Grapel had been under surveillance by Egyptian intelligence for a number of weeks and had been documented as visiting areas where tensions were high.

Some media outlets said Grapel's arrest has exposed an Israeli spy ring and that additional arrests were expected, with the investigation expanding to Alexandria and Suez.

The Egyptian media has also been reporting extensively on Israel's responses to the arrest, particularly in the Israeli press.

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