Grapel, who hails from Queens, New York, is Ackerman’s constituent and former intern.
“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.”
“For four long months,” he added, “we worked tirelessly to win Ilan’s release, and at last this long and terrible ordeal that Ilan and his loved ones have been forced to endure is almost over.”
Grapel has been held prisoner in Cairo since June. The third-year law student had traveled to Cairo on a grant from his university to work during the summer months, but was arrested by Egyptian officials on suspicion of spying for Israel. Ackerman rejected these accusations, however.
“From the beginning, I was assured by the highest levels in Israel that in no way did Ilan have anything to do with espionage, the Mossad or any other type of spy agency,” he said. “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.”
Grapel will be released as part of a deal made between Israel and Egypt, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Monday.
He will be released in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons, including three minors. None of the inmates to be released are security prisoners, the PMO confirmed.
The deal must first be approved by the Security Cabinet, which will meet on Tuesday.
“I want to express my deep appreciation to the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces as well as a number of very senior leaders in our government and in the Israeli government, all of whom we worked very closely with to keep this process moving steadily toward resolution, to keep Ilan’s family fully-informed, and to maintain focus on the real goal of fixing the original mistake that put Ilan into Egyptian custody,” added Ackerman. “We are also grateful that Ilan was treated well while in custody.”
He added, “This is a great day for Ilan and his family and we share in the joy and relief that they are no doubt feeling. We cannot wait for Ilan to return home to Queens so that he and his parents can finally wrap their arms around each other.”