QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11)—A Queens law student arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport Saturday for an emotional reunion with his family, after he was freed from an Egyptian prison.
Having stepped off a flight from Israel with his mother, Irene, and Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman (5th Congressional Queens & Long Island), a weary, but glowing Ilan Grapel gave his father and sister a big hug. "I just cried," said his father, Daniel Grapel. "I didn't say anything."
Accused of spying for Israel, Grapel, 27, spent more than four months in solitary confinement. He expressed gratitude for being treated decently. "I would get anything I wanted to eat, from fish to chicken," he said.
Grapel -- who is both a U.S. and Israeli citizen -- was arrested in June, while working for a legal aid group in Cairo. He angered Egyptian authorities, when he posted a picture of himself on Facebook standing in a crowd of Egyptian protesters.
"He rapidly became a big pawn in this big game," said the congressman, who Grapel interned for in the past.
He was ultimately set free in exchange for the release of 25 Egyptians imprisoned in Israel. "I was thankful that I now have due process for the first time in months, and an appreciation of American sovereignty," said Grapel about what he was thinking when his plane touched down on American soil.
He's looking forward to having his favorite breakfast at IHOP -- chocolate chip pancakes -- and to finishing up his last year at Emory University School Of Law.
Edited By Michelle Robinson