Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Oakland Gardens native Ilan Grapel “it’s good that you’re home” when the young man arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport Thursday afternoon after he was released by Egypt, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Grapel was greeted on the tarmac by his mother, Irene, and U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), who said details of the 27-year old’s return to New York would be announced as soon as they were confirmed.
Grapel was arrested on espionage charges in Egypt in June, when he was seen in Tahrir Square taking photos of himself in an Israeli armed services uniform and posting them to Facebook.
He is a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, where he served in the Army during the 2006 war with Lebanon.
The Post reported earlier Thursday morning that the Israel Prison Service had transferred 22 Egyptian prisoners ahead of Grapel’s release. An additional three minors were expected to be transferred at a later time, according to the newspaper.
Grapel, a student at Emory Law School in Atlanta, was in the country to work as an intern with a refugee-placement program. Ackerman, who helped negotiate his release, said he was assured at the highest levels of the Israeli government that Grapel is not a spy.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2011 Community News Group
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