Egypt frees Israeli-American law student

While the homecoming of Gilad Shalit has been the headline and major topic of much international news as of late, it is important to acknowledge that another Israeli prisoner (this one held in Egypt) has also recently been released.

Llan Grapel, an Israeli-American law student from Queens, NY, was released after four months in an Egyptian prison. In June, Grapel was at a demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square when he was arrested and accused of being an Israeli spy. At the time, he had been volunteering for a group aiding Sudanese refugees in Egypt. Grapel was holding a protest sign at the rally on June 12th when he was arrested. Grapel was thrown in jail for four months, where he was held without any formal charges against him, and no indication of any trial. Grapel was held in solitary confinement for these four months, although at one point he received a visit from his mother.

During this time, Israeli officials tried to negotiate Grapel’s release from Egypt, and Queens US District Rep. Gary Ackerman (whom Grapel had interned for years before) wrote recommendations to Egypt’s ruling military council for Grapel’s release as well. Finally, a deal was reached whereby Israel agreed to free 25 Egyptians held in Israel for the return of Grapel.

Although Grapel had been a law student at Emory University, once he returned home, Grapel noted “all of a sudden, the Bill of Rights is not something for the history books,” as he now holds as newfound appreciation for the American legal system.


  1. I think that Americans do not always realize how lucky we are to have the rights that we do, and we often take those rights for granted. This is not the first time an American has been arrested and imprisoned in another country without any type of formal charge or possibility of trial. There is no way to avoid these types of situations without being completely aware of all laws in another country, which is simply impossible. There is also no way for us to try and change a foreign country’s criminal procedure. Unfortunately, we take a risk every time we leave America and subject ourselves to another country’s legal system. This risk just comes with the territory and hopefully it makes people realize that we should appreciate the freedom we are given in this country and the protection the laws provide for us.

  2. The harsh reality in the world today is that not all countries have the “Bill of Rights”. In the US, Grapel would have not been detained for that extend amount of time without having formal charges against him. Instead, as the Supreme Court has interpreted the 4th Amendment, this detention would have been held unreasonable. Thus, this detention would have violated the 4th Amendment and therefore would have been illegal. However, this concept is foreign to Egypt’s legal system.
    Why must Israel exchange 25 prisoners for Grapel’s freedom? Why did Israel have to exchange over a 1000 Palestinians for Gilad Shalit? Instead of having to ask these questions, we should discuss how Israel values the freedom of their own citizens.

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