From the Times Ledger:
U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) said Tuesday he had been in contact with all possible parties concerning his former intern, Ilan Grapel, who was arrested late last week in Egypt on charges of being an Israeli spy.
“I have been assured from the highest levels in Israel... this kid had nothing to do with espionage,” Ackerman said during a conference call with reporters. “It’s an unfortunate mistake we’re trying to straighten out.”
According to the congressman, Grapel was using his own name while wearing his Israeli army uniform and posting pictures of himself to his Facebook account when he was arrested and detained for a period of 15 days. The New York Post said Grapel is 27.
“I guess that’s what you do when you’re in college,” Ackerman said with a slight laugh. “That’s not what a spy does. He may have been too cute by half by exhibiting a liberal sense of humor.” Ackerman did say he had been told by Egyptian officials that Grapel was asking questions and claiming to be a journalist for a foreign country.
Without going into specifics, the congressman said he had “a lot of friends over there” and was working with the Egyptian embassy and with the ambassador personally. “I’ve agreed to make my case in person if that would be helpful,” he said.