JERUSALEM (JTA) — An alleged Israeli spy arrested in Egypt has been identified by Israeli media as an American citizen who made aliyah in 2005.
Egyptian authorities arrested Ilan Grapel at his hotel in central Cairo on Sunday; Grapel was ordered detained for 15 days while he is investigated for allegedly "spying on Egypt with the aim of damaging its economic and political interests," Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported.
Grapel is accused of being an Israeli Mossad agent. Egyptian security officials said he entered the country shortly after the start of the January 25 uprising that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, during which he allegedly posed as a foreign correspondent. MENA also reported that his movements and phone calls were monitored before his arrest.
Israeli officials reportedly said that they had no knowledge of an Israeli citizen being held in Egypt. The U.S. State Department was informed Monday that a dual American-Israeli citizen was arrested in Egypt, according to reports.
Grapel, a New Yorker who moved to Israel after his graduation from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, served as a paratrooper during the Second Lebanon War and was wounded in southern Lebanon in August 2006, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Friends of Grapel’s told the Jerusalem Post that Grapel was an Arabist and liked spending time in Egypt.
Grapel’s father told Ynet that his son, a student at Emory Law School, was sent to Cairo as part of his studies, since he speaks Arabic. He was scheduled to leave Egypt at the end of August.