Suspected Israeli spy Ilan Chaim Grapel in Israeli military uniform
The United States has increased pressure on Egypt to release a suspected espionage agent of dual American-Israeli nationality.
Gary Ackerman from the US House Foreign Affairs Committee has entered talks with Egyptian authorities over Ilan Chaim Grapel's release, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
He claimed accusations against the 27-year-old Grapel were false.
“I would describe this as an understandable mistake that should be quickly remedied,” the official said.
The suspect had reportedly emigrated from the US to Israel and worked for the Israeli spy agency of Mossad. He was arrested in Cairo on June 12.
He is accused of collecting information about the developments in Egypt during the country's popular revolution, which toppled the pro-Israeli regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Grapel is also suspected of trying to recruit young people to commit treason against Egypt during the popular demonstrations in the capital of Cairo's protest hub of Liberation Square.
Upon his arrest, an Egyptian judiciary source said, “He was there on a daily basis inciting youths towards sectarian strife. He was distributing money to some of them,” adding that he tried to provoke the potential recruits to fight the Egyptian armed forces.
Egyptian judicial sources have referred to Grapel as an intelligence officer. He has a history of enlistment with Israel's military and fought against Lebanon during the 33-Day War in 2006.
Ackerman, however, claimed Grapel was a US law student and served as his intern in 2002.
“He is not a spy. He is a kid in college, acting like a kid in college,” the official said.
“He is a momentary distraction from what their situation and problems are.”