Egyptian Judge Denies Plans to Charge American-Israeli Accused of Spying

But friends, relatives worried over fate of Ilan Grapel.

An Egyptian judicial official said yesterday that the prosecution does not plan to prosecute an American-Israeli man who was arrested in Cairo and accused of spying for Israel.

For the first time since Ilan Grapel was arrested, about a week, Judge Hisham Badawi of the Supreme State Security Prosecution issued a categorical denial of published reports ostensibly based on leaks from the investigation.

Ilan Grapel Tahrir

"Everything published in the Al Ahram newspaper this morning is fundamentally mistaken," Badawi was quoted as telling the Internet newspaper The Seventh Day yesterday.

Al Ahram had also reported that before coming to Egypt, Grapel had tried to get a visa to Egypt from the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv by declaring he was a Muslim.

The newspaper, basing itself on what it said were leaks from the investigation room, said Grapel had sent numerous messages to the Mossad. He sent emails from various cafes in Cairo to cover his tracks, in addition to his efforts to collect information on the Palestinian reconciliation agreement and the Egyptian response to the post-Mubarak leadership.

According to the report, Grapel had attended meetings and conferences of various Egyptian political movements and parties, ranging from the Liberals to the Islamic streams. He followed military intelligence reports and tried to incite young people against the Supreme Military Council, which is considered the leader of the revolution, the paper said.

Al Ahram also reported that Grapel tried to assess the balance of power among the various political movements and predict what was likely to happen if the Muslim Brotherhood was to win the upcoming election.

According to the report, Grapel submitted information daily that was based on his frequent meetings with ordinary Egyptians.

Egyptian media outlets reported yesterday that representatives of the Israeli Embassy, including Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon, had met senior Egyptian Foreign Ministry and public prosecution officials, giving them documents that could help Grapel during questioning. Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi refused to meet with the Israelis, referring them to mid-level officials.

Friends and relatives of Grapel yesterday expressed concern about developments in his case, with one friend, Josh Kahn, saying reports that Grapel had tried to pass as a Muslim were totally illogical.

Kahn, who keeps in touch with Grapel's family in the United States, said that it sounded like a story Egyptian intelligence would make up to justify his arrest, since he is not a spy.