Queens Family Hopes Son Ilan Grapel Will Be Released From Egypt
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – On the heels of Gilad Shalit returning home after spending five years in a Hamas prison, a second Israeli prisoner swap was being negotiated on Tuesday, one that hits real close to home.
It involves a law student from Queens who is being held in Egypt as an alleged spy, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Daniel Grapel said all he wants is his son back.
“It’s pain to see your son in a place where I don’t have any control over how I can help to get him out of the situation and that’s a frustration,” Daniel Grapel said.
WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Story
Ilan Grapel, 27, an American who holds dual American-Israeli citizenship, was arrested four months ago on charges that he was an Israeli spy trying to sabotage the Egyptian revolution. He had served as a paratrooper in the Israeli Army. Egyptian authorities apparently identified him from a Facebook picture.
“Totally fictitious, not based on any fact. It was just trumped-up charges,” Daniel Grapel said.
“He is not a spy. He is a young American born on the United States, went to one of our prestigious high schools in the City of New York, went to Johns Hopkins,” said Congressman Gary Akerman, D-Queens.
Akerman, who has been working to free Ilan Grapel, said the hope is that following Tuesday’s release of Shalit – who was swapped for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners — there will be a second swap to free the young American.
News reports suggest the Israelis will exchange 80 Egyptians they arrested on drug and other charges for Ilan Grapel.
“We are also hopeful that Ilan Grapel will similarly be released. We see no basis for legal action against him,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Congressman Akerman said he was able to get Daniel and Irene Grapel into their son’s Egyptian prison for a brief visit last month, but the parents said they are just anxious for him to return to American soil.
“He certainly had nothing to do with fomenting the revolution against Mubarak, fire bombing police station,” as Irene told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane her son is also accused.
She called the charges “ludicrous.”
When asked what’s the first thing he’ll do if his son gets out, Daniel Grapel said, “Just basically give him a big kiss, a big hug. My wife and I just trying to forget what happened.”
When and if Ilan Grapel is released he’ll be returning to his Queens home to his mom, his dad and his older sister, Michal.
No one involved wants to talk about the exact time of Ilan Grapel’s release because it involves the Egyptian, Israeli and American governments and the tangle of Middle East politics.
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