With all due respect to the horrors of the Egyptian prison system, Congressman Gary Ackerman’s quip to Ilan Grapel, the Emory University law student and Queens native who was just released from several months’ captivity, was among the most cruel and unusual of punishments.
On his first day of freedom after a grueling five months in an Egyptian jail, Queens native Ilan Grapel got his cruelest punishment — being told the Mets won the 2011 World Series.
Grapel, expected to fly home to Queens today from Israel, was celebrating his release at a press conference in Tel Aviv, flanked by his mother Irene and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens), when he was pranked.
He said it would be hard to express his deep appreciation to everyone who helped free him.
“There’s so many people to thank,” he said, “and after being cut off for the past five months …”
Ackerman quickly interjected, “We told him the Mets won the World Series.”
Grapel, a sports fan, shot Ackerman a big smile — only to quickly feel the let-down most Mets fans are all too familiar with when he quickly figured out that the team had tanked — again.
When Grapel was arrested in Egypt on dubious spying charges on June 12, the Mets’ won-lost record was 32-33 and the Amazin’s still had dreams of playing in October.
Grapel, 27, a law student who speaks Arabic, was in Egypt working with a legal-aid group in the aftermath of the popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
Ackerman, a self-described Met fan, helped in the US-brokered deal that featured the swap of Grapel for 25 Egyptians imprisoned in Israel.