Israeli Held in Egypt Denies Mossad Ties

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JERUSALEM, Israel - American-born Israeli Ilan Grapel continues to deny accusations by the Egyptian government that he is an undercover agent for the Mossad, Israel's secret service. But Grapel may face trial as early as next week, the Egyptian daily al-Ahram reported.

Security forces arrested Grapel Sunday evening at his hotel in Cairo, remanding him for 15 days on alleged espionage charges. According to Egypt's official news agency, Grapel joined anti-government protests in Tahrir Square at the end of January, days after he arrived in Cairo. Pictures of him during the protests appeared on Facebook.

On his visa application at the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Grapel claimed to be a Muslim, al-Ahram reported.

"The interrogation reveals that Grapel is an important element within the Mossad," the paper wrote on Tuesday, claiming "he underwent advanced training at the Mossad."

Grapel's mother, Irene, told Army Radio her son was interning with a legal aid group in Cairo. "He is not a Mossad spy," she said in an interview with AP television, saying the charges were "so bogus."

On Tuesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters Grapel "should not be in custody."

"There is no reason for him to stay there," Lieberman said. "He may be a young man who is not responsible enough, but he has no links to [Israeli] intelligence services."

In 2005, Grapel immigrated to Israel from the U.S. and joined the Israel Defense Forces as a lone soldier. He was wounded in the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006. He holds an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., and is in his third year at Emory Law School.

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