Spy caught in Egypt is U.S. law student

Friends and relatives of a U.S.-born Israeli arrested in Egypt on spy charges said 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. However, the official Egyptian News Agency said the investigation showed he arrived in Egypt just before the protests began 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 new fears in Israel that relations with Egypt will sour now that its longtime president, Hosni Mubarak, has been deposed.

Grapel was arrested June 10 at a hotel in Cairo. His mother, Irene Grapel, said he was spending the summer as an intern at a legal aid group. — ap