Egypt charges American citizen with being spy for Mossad

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Reuters: “An alleged Israeli spy arrested in Egypt is an American immigrant to Israel who once wrote that he hoped to promote Israeli policies in the Arab world, according to information he and others provided on websites.” At Facebook, the guy said he was “preaching” at Al Azhar University in Cairo. BBC: Israel says the student has no connection to its intelligence agencies.

From State Department briefing yesterday, before the subject got changed.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on an American citizen, a student in Egypt, who’s been arrested and accused of being a Mossad spy?

MR. [Mark] TONER: I do, but it’s very preliminary information. But we are aware that U.S. citizen Ilam Chaim Grapel was detained on June 12th by Egyptian authorities. A consular official did visit Mr. Grapel on June 13th at the prosecutor’s office; that was in New Cairo. He’s – we’ve confirmed that he was in good health. Mr. Grapel’s family is aware of his arrest and I refer to you Government of Egypt for details on the charges against him.

QUESTION: Do you have any opinion on those – on the accusations of him being a spy?

MR. TONER: Well, again, the – right now, our function, as we would in the case of any American citizen held overseas, is to provide him with consular services, work with local authorities to make sure he’s being treated fairly under local law, provide information about the local legal system and facilitate communication with his family and friends. The Egyptian authorities did give us almost immediate consular access, and as I said, he’s in good health. And I believe now that they’ve got a number of days to carry out an investigation and elaborate on the charges against him.

QUESTION: You have reason to believe that he is innocent or guilty?

MR. TONER: Again, no. We don’t have any opinion as of yet. I mean, they’re carrying out an investigation, and we’ll wait to see what that —

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. TONER: Sure.

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