It was not justice — not even close — but it was a welcome outcome nonetheless.
Ilan Grapel, a law student from Queens, was freed last week from a prison in Egypt where he was being held on “trumped-up” spying charges.
In return for the release of Grapel, Israel released 25 Egyptian prisoners. Israel has given assurance that none of the prisoners it released are believed to be terrorists, but some were in prison on drug charges.
The deal, which was made possible by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, defused a potential crisis between Israel and Egypt.
Grapel, 27, was a volunteer with a legal aid group that was working in Cairo during the Arab Spring that led to the overthrow of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He was arrested June 12 on suspicion of spying for Israel, but was never charged.
At a press conference in Tel Aviv, Grapel said his captors did not abuse him and made certain that he was “fed well.”
This is the kind of nonsense that Israel has to put up with, but in this case the prisoner used as a bargaining chip is an American. We applaud Ackerman for his role in this deal and we can only imagine the relief and joy Grapel’s mother must feel.
Still, we hope Ackerman made it clear that this cannot happen again. Innocent Americans cannot be used as bargaining chips.
In last week’s edition, we opposed legislation introduced by state Sen. Tony Avella that would require the state comptroller to review and approve all land sales worth $100,000 and higher to private companies.
The legislation was prompted by the controversial sale of Creedmoor land in Queens to the Indian Cultural and Community Center.
We argued that the city comptroller could do a better job regulating land sales in New York City. But as Avella pointed out, we were wrong. Creedmoor is state property and the city comptroller cannot investigate the sale of state property.
TimesLedger Newspapers apologizes for the error.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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