JERUSALEM — Friends and relatives of a U.S.-born Israeli arrested in Egypt on spy charges said Monday that he is a law student in Atlanta with an avid interest in the Mideast - and not a Mossad agent out to sabotage Egypt’s revolution, as Egyptian authorities claim.
His mother and a fellow student said he arrived in Cairo only in May. Late Monday, the official Egyptian News Agency said the investigation showed he arrived in Egypt just before the protests began on Jan. 25 and was in the square where the protests were centered every day, “inciting sedition, spreading rumors, and urging protesters toward friction with the armed forces and to commit acts of violence.”
The arrest of 27-year-old Ilan Grapel has set off newfears in Israel that relations with Egypt will sour now that its longtime president, Hosni Mubarak, has been deposed.
Since Mubarak’s ouster, Egypt’s military rulers have often warned against unspecified “foreign” attempts to destabilize the country. Egypt, like other Arab states, has a long history of blaming internal problems on Israeli saboteurs.