Egyptians Dismiss Denials of Accused American-Israeli Spy

Ilan Grapel strenuously denies charge of spying for Israel before public prosecutor, saying information he had passed on to family, friends was widely available on Internet, Egyptian and Arab news networks.

Ilan Grapel, who was detained in Egypt on suspicion of spying for Israel, was brought before the public prosecutor yesterday under heavy security. He strenuously denied the charge.

Grapel, who has dual American-Israeli citizenship, was interviewed in the presence of officials from the U.S. and Israeli embassies, and said that information he had passed on to family and friends in emails was widely available on the Internet and in the Egyptian and Arab news networks.

Ilan Grapel
Archive: Doron Golan / Jini

Grapel said he had served in the Israel Defense Forces for two years and three months, but had never worked for the Israeli intelligence community. He came to Egypt to study Sunni Islam, he said.

The newspaper Al Masry Al Youm said Grapel, who is Jewish, had sent 20 messages containing information and photographs and visited Jewish sites in Alexandria.

Grapel will be investigated with six other people who have alleged links to him, Channel 10 reported.

Media reports said Grapel's friends noted that he did not behave as a spy would - he did not hide his curiousity, used to read Hebrew websites and went around with an Arabic-Hebrew dictionary.

Grapel's getting together with young people in Cairo's Tahrir Square led to accusations his being detained is an attempt to implicate revolutionary leaders and portray them as part of an Israeli plot to overthrow the Egyptian government.

The Al-Ahram newspaper linked Grapel to the Mossad, saying that "he held a central role in the Mossad and received advanced training in the organization," Channel 10 reported.

On Egyptian talk shows, interviewees said Israel had an interest in harming Egypt's national security, and that Grapel is also accused of encouraging violence between Muslims and Christians.

An Egyptian official told Haaretz the public seems convinced Grapel is a spy, and that Egyptian intelligence had put him under surveillance and gathered evidence.

The Egyptian authorities announced on Sunday they had arrested a suspected spy for Israel. Egyptian media published Grapel's name and identity on Monday.