Jerusalem: Israel`s foreign minister said Tuesday that a US-born Israeli arrested in Egypt on espionage charges is not a spy and expressed hope the case would soon be resolved.
Ilan Grapel, who served in the Israeli army as a paratrooper, "has no connection to any intelligence agency, not in Israel, not in the U.S. and not on Mars," Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio.
The foreign minister said Grapel`s arrest was a "mistake, or bizarre behavior, on the part of the Egyptians" and said he hoped "this saga will end as soon as possible." Israel, he added, has sent clarifications to Egypt.
Grapel`s family and friends say 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.
Grapel, 27, was arrested Sunday at a hotel in Cairo, where he was working for a legal aid group.
His mother and a fellow student said he arrived in Cairo in May. Egypt says he came in mid-January, just before the protests that toppled longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak began, and accuses him of inciting sedition, spreading rumors, and kindling frictions between protesters and the military that now rules the country.
Grapel`s arrest has set off new fears in Israel that relations with Egypt will sour now that Mubarak has been deposed.
Since Mubarak`s ouster, Egypt`s military rulers have often warned against unspecified "foreign" attempts to destabilize the country.
Egypt, like other Arab states, has a long history of blaming internal problems on Israeli saboteurs.