Egypt Wants Prisoner Swap With Israel For Accused Spy Grapel

Egypt Wants Prisoner Swap With Israel For Accused Spy Grapel

Egypt is calling for release of dozens of Egyptians being held in Israeli prisons in return for dual American-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel, who is being held on spying charges.

There are 78 Egyptians currently held in Israeli prisons, accused of infiltrating the border, the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reported.

Other demands reportedly have also been made.

The report comes following the visit to Egypt last week of U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who reportedly expressed concern about Grapel's continued detention but was unable to secure his release. The Egyptian news service MENA reported that the United States had offered Egypt additional aid and political support in exchange for Grapel's release.

Grapel is a New Yorker who moved to Israel following his graduation from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He joined the Israeli army, served as a paratrooper during the Second Lebanon War and was wounded in Southern Lebanon in August 2006.

Egyptian security officials said Grapel entered the country shortly after the start of the Jan. 25 uprising that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and posed as a foreign correspondent.

A law student at Emory University, Grapel allegedly said he was Muslim on the visa application that he filed with the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv and then entered Egypt using his American passport.

Grapel denies he is a spy. He says he came to Egypt to intern for a nongovernmental organization that assists refugees from Sudan and elsewhere.

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