NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A law student from Queens being held as a spy in Egypt will soon be released as part of another deal involving Israel to swap prisoners.
After four months of worry, Daniel Grapel’s wish is finally coming true. His son is being freed from an Egyptian prison.
“My reaction, it’s great. It’s about time,” Grapel told CBS 2’s John Slattery on Monday. “It should have been done before. I’m just waiting to see my son back home.”
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Ilan Grapel, 27, who holds both American and Israeli citizenship, was arrested in Cairo in June, suspected as an Israeli spy trying to sabotage the revolution in Egypt.
“The charges are completely fictitious. We said it right from the beginning. It has no bearing in reality,” Daniel Grapel said.
Ilan Grapel, who attends Emory Law School in Atlanta, had been an Israeli paratrooper. He was to spend the summer working for a refugee resettlement and legal aid organization when he was nabbed in Cairo.
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“The problem, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn’t belong there in the middle of a revolution. He was there out of curiosity,” Daniel Grapel said.
Slattery met with Queens Congressman Gary Ackerman as he was coming into LaGuardia Airport on Monday afternoon. Ackerman was instrumental in brokering the deal. Ilan Grapel will be freed in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners.
“He certainly was not a spy, but he did present them with an opportunity. He’s an Israeli. There’s a lot of paranoia that goes on in the Middle East,” Rep. Ackerman said.
For the young man’s family it’s all good news, but his father said he won’t breathe a sigh of relief until his son sets foot in the U.S.
The Israeli government will convene a special security cabinet meeting Tuesday to approve the deal. Ilan Grapel is expected to be released on Thursday along with the more than two dozen Egyptian prisoners.
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