Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu personally welcomed back on Thursday Ilan Grapel, the American-Israeli who was released from an Egyptian prison.
Grapel was held since June on charges of spying for Israel. He was released in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners who were held in Israel.
Also present at the meeting were Grapel’s mother and New York Congressman Gary Ackerman, who thanked Netanyahu for working to secure Grapel’s release. Grapel was formerly an intern for Ackerman and is one of his constituents. Ackerman worked constantly behind the scenes to release Grapel.
Grapel spoke to the media in a short press conference on Thursday evening, in which he thanked Netanyahu, the U.S. State Department, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and all the other people who worked to secure his release.
“I do not know where I’d be without them,” Channel 10 News quoted Grapel as having said. “I appreciate your concern.”
Grapel told the reporters that the Egyptians treated him well, cared for his health, fed him, and treated him with respect.
In response to a reporter’s question on the conditions in the Egyptian prison, Grapel said, “I was in isolation, but the guards treated me well.”
He added he had eaten well in prison and said he received “better meals than the average Egyptian pays for.” He denied the charges against him that he tried to recruit young Egyptians to the Mossad and used the revolution in Egypt to incite youths to confront the army and destroy government property.
“I was arrested on false claims,” he said.