Ilan Grapel Returns To New York After Being Released From Prison In Egypt

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens man held in prison in Egypt for almost five months is back on U.S. soil.

Ilan Grapel arrived in New York Saturday morning. He was released from Egypt on Thursday.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Grapel was met at Kennedy Airport by a small group of family and friends carrying red, white and blue balloons.

“It’s hard for me to describe it, honestly,” Grapel said.

The 27-year-old law student was arrested in Cairo in June, accused of being an Israeli spy. He was held in an Egyptian prison for four months. Grapel, who holds both an American and Israeli citizenship, was suspected of trying to sabotage the revolution in Egypt.

“When your life flashes before your eyes, you start to think back to the times when I was living in New York for 18 years, playing basketball in south Jamaica, going to high school in the Bronx, those are things you think about,” he said.

ilan grapel 2 Ilan Grapel Returns To New York After Being Released From Prison In Egypt

Ilan Grapel (right) being greeted by friends and family at JFK on Oct. 29, 2011 (credit: Sophia Hall/WCBS 880)

Grapel’s mother Irene, who met her son in Israel, said she’s grateful to have him home. “Here we are,” she said. “All I can say is God bless America.”

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports

“The charges are completely fictitious,” Grapel’s father Daniel said. “We said it right from the beginning, it has no bearing in reality.”

Queens Congressman Gary Ackerman, who helped secure his release, was also with Grapel when he landed. Grapel once worked for Ackerman.

There is a big party planned Saturday night in Oakland Gardens, Queens to welcome him home, but the first stop will be IHOP. Grapel said he’s been craving chocolate chip pancakes.

Grapel was traded for 25 Egyptians held in Israeli jails. He was working for a legal aid group when he was arrested and thanked everyone who helped bring him home.

Please share your thoughts below…

  • Carl

    Great, the spy is back.

  • dan

    The USA paid Egypt wit F16 fighters. Who are they going to use them against, the peace loving Egyptions?

  • Meme Meyagi

    what is done about 7 million mooslime terrorists living in usa?

    • Dan

      Obama cuddles them

  • Go back to Israel, please.

    You live in the USA and are a US Citizen. how about you join the Military in the country you tale advantage of the freedoms our Military provide? This guy gets more publicity than he is worth. Go back to Icrael and stay there and stop taking from thic country.

    • goblin

      Roger that. They should do away with this dual citizenship garbage.

  • Jeffrey Krantz

    Rule number one: DON”T help Mooslem countries
    RULE NUMBER TWO: do not go visit Mooslem countries

  • Guy who once saw Lyle A l z a d o at Newark Airport

    About to go back on my toilet to take a dump.

  • NEIL


    • Just Curious

      Out of curiosity – everyone keeps saying he was peaceloving, was intrigued by ARabs and wanted to help them… so in that case then WHY would he join an active combat unit of the Israeli Defence Forces when they were at war with Lebanon? He was not obliged to join but voulunteered so very hard to understand why this individual who, it has been proven, had a desire to fight Arabs (and kill them assumingly?) would go to Egypt to help with the Arab Spring and his family/friends consistent statements that he is peaceloving, etc…

      • Don Quichote

        None of your business

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