JERUSALEM — A dual U.S.-Israeli citizen held in Egypt since June as an alleged spy for Israel was freed Thursday in return for the release of 25 Egyptian prisoners jailed in Israel, in a deal reached after high-level intervention by Washington.
Ilan Grapel, 27, was flown to Israel after the Egyptians were handed over at the Taba border crossing between Israel and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Accompanied by two Israeli emissaries, Grapel stepped out of an executive jet into the embrace of his mother, Irene, on the tarmac.
He was also greeted by Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., who represents Grapel's home borough of Queens, and by the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. Grapel was driven to Jerusalem for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was expected to leave today for the United States.
Israel has denied the Egyptian allegations that Grapel, a law student at Emory University in Atlanta, was a spy. His parents said he had been working in Cairo for a group that helps refugees when he was arrested June 12. Egyptian officials accused him of gathering intelligence about the Egyptian revolution, inciting protesters to violence, and sedition.