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Israeli officials deny Egyptian spying accusations

06-13-2011 21:47 BJT

JERUSALEM, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Foreign Ministry is still trying to verify the identity of an individual who the Egyptian officials recently detained for allegedly spying for Israel.

The news of the man's arrest erupted on Sunday, when Egyptian authorities announced they had detained an Israeli, while "spying on Egypt with the aim of harming its economic and political interests," the state MENA news agency reported.

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials strongly denied the accusations. "He is not a spy, that is completely false," ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Xinhua on Monday, adding "we need a communique or a statement from the Egyptian authorities, and we still don't have any information whatsoever about the arrest or the man's identity."

Palmor complained that Israel received news of the arrest via media reports.

"We are not getting any answers from Egypt and everything we know until now is coming from Facebook and the press," Palmor commented, "but then again, every time they arrest Israelis they take a few days to notify us and give us their ID's, because in Egypt things go slower."

Local Israeli press wrote on Monday that the individual might be Ilan Grapel, a U.S. born citizen who emigrated to Israel in 2005 and served in the Israel Defense Forces. Grapel was also very interested in Arabic affairs, having traveled extensively around the Middle East, the Ha'aretz daily reported.

It is still not clear why Grapel was in Egypt after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's downfall.

"It's not the first time Egypt says they have arrested an Israeli spy, this has happened a few times in the past," Palmor said, "and since they never have any evidence, the Israelis are eventually released. I don't think this last arrest has anything to do with a supposed tension among our countries."

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: Xinhua

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