Report: Israel, U.S. to Release Prisoners for Grapel
After Sunday’s report that Egypt is set to release dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Ilan Grapel after nearly four months, another report released on Monday sheds some more light on the deal that was reached to secure his release.
According to the Israeli Ma’ariv newspaper, Israel has agreed to release 25 Egyptian security prisoners currently serving sentences in Israeli jails in exchange for Grapel.
The report, which is based on comments made by a senior Egyptian television commentator, the United States will also release prisoners. Among the prisoners to be released are also ones classified by Egypt as “high profile”.
The commentator added that the main part of the deal that was reached includes an American agreement to sell advanced weapons to the Egyptian Army, which until now the U.S. has refrained from doing due to Israeli pressure.
Grapel, 27, was arrested on charges of being an Israeli spy by Egyptian transitional government authorities. He was accused of spying for Israel, and inciting riots following the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak in the Tahrir Square Revolution.
Family and friends called the charges absurd, given that he was in Egypt to study Arabic culture, for which he has had long abiding passion. A number of Egyptians considered the charges to be bogus as well.
According to Sunday’s report in the official Egyptian MENA news agency, the decision to release Grapel was reversed after the Obama administration agreed to increase its political and financial support to Egypt if he were to be released.
Both Sunday and Monday’s reports said Grapel will return to the United States with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who will make an official visit to Cairo starting on Tuesday.