The Prime Minister of Israel announced that Ilan Grapel, the Queens native and law student arrested during the Egyptian uprisings in June, will be released in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners, according to Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s office.
Grapel had been a member of the Israeli military serving as a paratrooper and was injured in southern Lebanon in August 2006. After returning home, he began attending Emory Law School in Georgia and travelled to Egypt as part of a project involving African refugees. Ilan arrived early in an effort to experience the country when he was arrested in June accused of being an officer of the Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Service, despite records of entering the country with a legitimate passport and posting pictures of himself on Facebook during the uprisings that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak.
“Ilan’s release is terrific news,” said Ackerman. “We cannot be more relieved and gratified that Ilan will finally be freed and that he will soon be reunited with his family.”
Grapel, 27, worked with Ackerman, the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, as in intern in the summer of 2002.
“Ilan is a wonderful young man who loves Egypt and the Egyptian culture. He’s a person deeply committed to the cause of humanity and bringing people together, and just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Ackerman.
“I still reserve my emotional opinion because we have to wait until he actually crosses the line, before that nothing is 100 percent guaranteed until it actually happens,” said Daniel Grapel, Ilan’s father.
Details surrounding the timing of Grapel’s release have yet to be released.