Ibrahim Halawa released from Cairo prison and due home in next few days

Egyptian authorities have released Firhouse man Ibrahim Halawa who was detained for four years on charges related to a Muslim Brotherhood protest in Cairo in 2013.

A message on the “Free Ibrahim Halawa” Facebook page last night confirmed the news and welcomed his release.

“Fantastic news, Ibrahim has finally been released from prison. We will now begin to make arrangements to bring him home where he belongs in Ireland.”

“We can’t thank enough all those who worked so hard for Ibrahim’s release, we owe you all so much.”

His release comes a month after an Egyptian court acquitted him of all charges his lawyer Darragh Mackin announced.

The 21-year-old was jailed in 2013 after being arrested in a mosque amid protests over the removal of the then Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the news, saying: “He will soon be able to return home and be reunited with his family…either Sunday or Monday by the time he is home I suspect.”

Natia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International said:

“After four years of unjust detention, today Ibrahim Halawa finally walks free.

“He should never have been jailed in the first place and it is utterly outrageous that he was forced to spend a single minute of his young life behind bars.

“Today is not just a day of celebration for Ibrahim Halawa it is a triumphant day for all his friends, family members and the thousands of activists in Ireland and across the globe who fought long and hard to campaign for his release and put an end to his agonizing ordeal.

“His acquittal and release shows that by standing up for human rights and speaking out persistently in the face of injustice, people have the power to make a real difference.

“The Egyptian authorities must now take urgent steps to release all other prisoners of conscience in their custody. No one should have to face the injustice he was forced to suffer.”

Local TD and Independent Minister Katherine Zappone said the release of Mr Halawa is a huge relief for all who campaigned and called for every possible support to put in place to ensure his health and wellbeing.

“Today is for celebrating. The moment which all of us have waited for has finally arrived and Ibrahim is free.

“For almost four-years I have remained in close contact with the Halawa family, in particular his sisters Somaia, Fatima and Omaima.

“On the streets, the corridors of power and through legal avenues the three sisters kept their brothers plight in the public eye. Their determination, commitment and love is an inspiration. They are some of the most inspiring people I have ever campaigned with.

Lawyers Katie O’Byrne, Caoilfhionn Gallagher of Doughty Street Chambers as well as Darragh Mackin of KRW Law provided invaluable support and information throughout the ordeal and their persistence has also been crucial in keeping the campaign in the public eye.” 

Fine Gael TD for Dublin South-West, Colm Brophy, has praised the work by current and former Taoisigh and Foreign Affairs Ministers in securing the release of Ibrahim Halawa from an Egyptian prison.

Deputy Brophy, who was a member of an Oireachtas delegation visited his local constituent in jail last January, said Ibrahim’s release was a long drawn out diplomatic affair with Irish officials relentlessly lobbying their Egyptian counterparts and making representations on behalf of Ibrahim.

“The work of Taoisigh Varadkar and Kenny and Foreign Ministers Coveney and Flanagan in this cannot be understated. This was a long diplomatic affair and through no fault on the Irish side, Ibrahim was locked up for more than four years in Egypt before being acquitted on all charges.

“Every singular effort was made to secure his release and perseverance has finally paid off. I welcome his release today. Ibrahim has waited long enough for it,” Deputy Brophy said.

“I was delighted to hear of Ibrahim’s final release from prison late on Thursday night. It has been a terrible ordeal for him and his family. It is finally coming to an end and everyone is looking forward to seeing Ibrahim back in Firhouse over coming days.”

Egypt has witnessed a severe crackdown on freedom of speech and political activism since the military coup. Thousands of citizens have been arrested and imprisoned; some 917 Egyptians have been sentenced to death since 2013.

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Padraig Conlon
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