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Michael Fay, the American teenager flogged for vandalism, got out of prison Tuesday and insisted he was innocent of spray-painting cars. He claimed he was slapped around by interrogators before pleading guilty.

He also confirmed he shook hands with the prison employee who lashed him last month, saying it was a matter of keeping his pride after being coerced into wrongly confessing to vandalism."I was smacked in the face. My hair was pulled. I was actually pulled out of my chair by the hair. I was hit on the head with one of the officer's knuckles," Fay said in an interview with Israel radio.

"My friends as well were also tortured and some were tortured worse than me," he said.

Police have denied the family's allegations that Fay was bullied into confessing.

Fay, 19, gave a similar account in a letter to his father, but the radio interview was his first since he and eight other foreign youths were arrested Oct. 6 on suspicion of spraying paint on cars and stealing road signs.

George Fay said his son chose to talk by telephone with Israel radio because the Israeli public had supported him and Israeli human rights campaigners tried to head off the flogging.

The younger Fay told Israel radio that he did nothing except keep stolen street signs, which he claimed were taken by a youth now back in Sweden.

"I say that from the deepest of my heart that I did not commit any of these things except that I had some signs in my house," he said.

Fay received four lashes with a rattan cane on his bare buttocks May 5. He confirmed reports that afterward he shook the flogger's hand. "I shook his hand because I keep my pride inside me," Fay said, adding that the man was only following government orders.

George Fay said that his parents were Jews who survived the Holocaust and that when his son's Jewish background emerged, "it touched a chord in Israel."

It also kindled his son's interest in Judaism, and he read "Schindler's List" during his 83 days behind bars. Fay said he gave the book to his father, saying, "I underlined all the parts that I want to talk to you about."

"I am happy to be out," Fay told reporters outside the embassy. "My health is good. I'm looking forward to the future very much. I am looking forward to going back to my own country."