Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Maximum pressure on Egyptian authorities' - Government's 'frustration' at delayed release of Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim Halawa has been in a Cairo jail since 2013
Ibrahim Halawa has been in a Cairo jail since 2013

Kathy Armstrong

Irish authorities are "maintaining maximum pressure" on Egyptian officials to release Ibrahim Halawa, it was confirmed today.

Irish citizen Ibrahim (21) was arrested during a protest against the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo in 2013.

He spent four years in prison and was acquitted of all charges during a mass trial of 490 defendants last month but still hasn't left jail.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the government is unhappy with the situation.

A spokesman said: "The Government shares the widely held sense of frustration at the delay in Ibrahim Halawa being released from prison in Cairo despite having been acquitted of the charges faced.

"The Egyptian authorities maintain that there is a process which must be followed in respect of all of the defendants in the trial, and that there are a number of steps remaining to be gone through.

Ibrahim Halawa celebrates moments after his acquittal of various charges at the Wadi el-Natrun prison outside Cairo yesterday. Photo: Declan Walsh/The New York Times/Redux
Ibrahim Halawa celebrates moments after his acquittal of various charges at the Wadi el-Natrun prison outside Cairo yesterday. Photo: Declan Walsh/The New York Times/Redux

"The Irish authorities and Ibrahim’s legal representatives are maintaining maximum pressure on the Egyptian authorities in relation to this process and."

Read More: Government could hire private jet to fly freed Ibrahim Halawa home to Ireland

He said that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has written to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi asking him to speed up the process, while Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has also been in direct contact with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The DFA also revealed that officials visited Ibrahim in prison and they said he is excited to come back to Ireland.

The Spokesman said: "Officials from the Irish Embassy in Cairo paid a further consular visit to Ibrahim Halawa on Thursday 12 October.  

"They reported that Ibrahim is in good spirits and is looking forward to returning to Ireland soon."

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