The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has welcomed the release yesterday by Egypt of Ilan Grapel, who served as a visiting research fellow in its Melbourne office in 2009.
A law student at Emory University in Atlanta, USA, Mr. Grapel travelled to Egypt early this year to volunteer for a charity helping develop civil society there before being arrested in early June amidst allegations he was an Israeli agent. He was held for more than four months without any charges being formally laid against him.
Dr Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC’s Executive Director, said claims Mr Grapel was a spy were “objectively ridiculous” and “deservedly brought great international, public embarrassment to Egypt’s post-Mubarak government. He was a victim of judicial kidnapping.”
“Ilan was completely open about his associations with Israel, had a public profile as a human rights advocate and a passion for understanding Middle Eastern cultures and peoples,” Dr Rubenstein noted.
“Egypt gained as a ‘ransom’ the release of 25 convicted criminals, mostly drug and weapons smugglers, who had been in Israeli jails. We can only hope that the arrest itself and the subsequent demands were more an aberration in, than the tone of, post-Mubarak Egypt, which we firmly hope will be democratic, peace-loving, prosperous and respectful of human rights,” Dr Rubenstein added.
AIJAC also expressed gratitude to all parties who helped secure Ilan’s release or publicised his plight, including senior American and Israeli officials and politicians, our partners in the American Jewish Committee, who sponsored Grapel’s 2009 Goldman fellowship in Melbourne, and Australian politician Jamie Briggs MP, Federal Member for Mayo in South Australia, who raised his plight in Parliament.
For additional information contact Dr. Colin Rubenstein on (03)-9681-6660.