NEW YORK – An Emory University law student who was arrested months ago at a demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, accused of being an Israeli spy and locked in an Egyptian jail for the summer returned home to New York City on Saturday as part of a prisoner swap that also freed 25 Egyptians held in Israel.

Ilan Grapel, 27, arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport looking tired and thin, but wearing a huge smile.

He said that after spending more than four months behind bars in Egypt, he had a new appreciation for the American legal system.

“All of a sudden, the Bill of Rights is not something for the history books,” he said.

Grapel, who holds joint U.S. and Israeli citizenship, was volunteering for a group aiding Sudanese refugees in Egypt and staying at a youth hostel when he was detained by police who saw him carrying a protest sign at a rally June 12.

He was accused of spying for Israel, then held for months without formal charges or a trial while U.S. and Israeli officials worked to gain his release.

Grapel said he was not a spy. But he graduated early from Johns Hopkins University, speaks fluent Arabic and Hebrew, served in Israel’s armed forces and had internships with Israel’s high court and in the Queens district office of U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman.

After Grapel’s joyful reunion with family members at the airport, Ackerman said the student was more like “the kind of kid who might have been at Zuccotti Park,” referring to the plaza that is home to New York City’s Occupy Wall Street encampment.