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Friday, June 17, 2011

Egypt's Al Ahram obsessed with "spy" story

Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, which is the most popular Egyptian daily, has been obsessed with the story of Ilan Grapel.

Every day there are multiple stories with new and more bizarre accusations.

Today we have:

An analyst who tries to prove that Grapel's actions could only be explained by his being a spy, as tourists would never act the way he did. (Of course, Arabists and adventurers would act exactly the way he did.)

Another article claims that a US embassy staffer told Grapel "You are in big trouble" and that Al Ahram obtained documents that Grapel filled out requesting a renewal of residence saying he was a Muslim.

A third is a lengthy interview with a security officer giving details on how the brilliant Egyptian security team managed to track down this spy who was using his own name and freely talking to everyone without trying to hide anything.

Al Ahram confidently publishes a disclaimer of sorts at the end of one of the articles:
Pending completion of investigations

Al-Ahram will continue to publish all information and documents about the Israeli spy case, as it has been doing in recent days. The days after the conclusion of the investigation and the start of the trial will determine whether the Al-Ahram has been truthful and accurate or otherwise.
Other Egyptian papers are allowing at least a small degree of skepticism. But in poker terms, Al Ahram is "all in" and will now ensure that the most bizarre rumors will be plastered all over its pages to make sure that any possible "trial" will support its yellow journalism.

I don't know what the US is doing to get Grapel out of there, but this is a case of life and death, with Arab pride on the line. Every day that is wasted can literally be a death sentence for him. It is time to mobilize and write to the State Department to insist that this is the highest priority.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian woman in this photo with Grapel was interviewed on Egyptian TV. She revealed that Grapel told her he fought in the Lebanon war, that he studied in Tel Aviv and in the US, that his Arabic accent was Lebanese, he invited her to Israel but warned that "there was racism there."

He once told her that they will be allies one day. She asked, "Against whom?" He said "Iran." She replied, "forget it, that's impossible."