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Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Quiet diplomacy is doing nothing for Ibrahim Halawa'- former cellmate speaks out

Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa

Shona Murray

A FORMER cellmate of jailed Dubliner Ibrahim Halawa says the Irish government needs to do more than just quiet diplomacy to secure his release.

The 20-year-old Tallaght man marked 1,000 days in prison in Egypt last Friday.

Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste – who previously shared a prison cell with Ibrahim – said that if it wasn’t for the pressure on politicians and diplomats by his family in Australia, he would still be in prison.

While the Irish government insists that it is pursuing “every constructive avenue to secure” his release, lawyers for Mr Halawa say that the Government has the ability to deploy a special discretionary presidential decree which applies to foreign defendants to continue the judicial process or serve out their sentence in their home country.

This mechanism, called Rule 140 was successfully used by lawyers for Mr Greste last year.

He was returned to Australia upon the agreement that authorities there complete the judicial process instead of standing in a retrial in Egypt.

The Australian courts found that there was no evidence to charge Mr Greste with any crime and he was released.

It is believed that the Irish government is intending to seek the application of Rule 140, but after Halawa is sentenced.

Lawyers for Mr Greste have briefed members of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well others in the Department of Foreign Affairs, about the application of law.

“My family made a conscious decision to harness a lot of international support and public support by putting pressure on politicians and diplomats,” Mr Greste told the Herald. “I’d still be in prison if it wasn’t for that campaign.”

Mr Greste, who spent time in a prison cell with Halawa called on the Irish authorities to “defend his rights”.

He says Ibrahim was “swept up” when the authorities were looking for anyone who was suspected of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Irish government has chosen a path of quiet diplomacy, and sources say it is believed that too much “megaphone diplomacy” would actually hinder Mr Halawa’s case.

“That approach doesn’t seem to have done Ibrahim a great deal of good up until now,” said Mr Greste.

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