Israel denies man held in Egypt is a spy

Tue Jun 14, 2011 7:07am GMT

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel denied on Tuesday that Ilan Grapel, a dual U.S. and Israeli citizen arrested in Egypt on suspicion of espionage, is a spy.

"This is a student, perhaps a little strange or a little careless. He has no connection to any intelligence apparatus, not in Israel, not in the U.S. and not on Mars," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Army Radio.

Grapel, 27, was arrested in Egypt on Sunday and ordered held for 15 days. Egypt alleged he was an Israeli spy out to recruit agents and monitor the events of the revolt that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak.

"This is a mistake or strange behaviour by the Egyptians. They have received all the clarifications and I hope the whole story will end quickly," Lieberman said.

Grapel's mother, Irene, said her son, a law student in the United States, was working for Saint Andrew's Refugee Services, a non-governmental organisation, in Cairo.

The U.S. embassy in Cairo said a consular officer visited Grapel on Monday and found him in good health.

Grapel immigrated to Israel in 2005 from New York and served in its military in the 2006 Lebanon war.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

<p>Ilan Grapel (R), a U.S. immigrant to Israel, is visited by friends as he recovers in a hospital bed in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, in this August 2, 2006 file photo, after he was wounded fighting for Israel in the 2006 war with Lebanon. Grapel was arrested by Egypt as an Israeli spy on June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Doron Golan_Jini/Files</p>
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