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Friday 17 August 2018

'We can bring him home where he belongs' - Ibrahim Halawa released from Cairo prison

  • Government 'delighted' to confirm release
  • 'Ibrahim is a free man', says lawyer
  • Leo Varadkar said that he 'spent far too long in Egyptian prison'
  • 'Some formalities' required before flying Dubliner home to Ireland - Coveney
  • Photo emerges shortly after 21-year-old is released from custody
Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa
Ibrahim Halawa has been acquitted of all charges
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
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Ibrahim Halawa has been released from Eyptian prison after more than four years in custody.

The 21-year-old from Dublin was cleared last month of all charges connected to mass protests in Cairo in August 2013 on the Muslim Brotherhood's so-called Day of Rage.

President Michael D Higgins, who is on a State visit to Australia, welcomed Mr Halawa's release.

"The release of Ibrahim Halawa will come as a great relief to his family. It will be welcomed by all those who were concerned for him in his long ordeal of imprisonment. I wish Ibrahim Halawa well on his journey home," he said in a statement.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he "spent far too long" in prison.

Speaking in Brussels this morning Mr Varadkar said he's "Really, really delighted that Ibrahim Halawa has been released.

"He's receiving full consular assistance at the moment so we're helping him to get back to Ireland where he'll be reunited with his family.

"Hopefully he will get on with his life and get on with his studies.

"He spent far too long in Egyptian prison but I'm delighted that he's now out," Mr Varadkar said.

A statement on the Free Ibrahim Halawa Facebook page run by his supporters reads:

"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."

The post also appeared to show a new photo of the young Firhouse man.

His family, who campaigned tirelessly for his release, have not yet commented directly on the news. Mr Halawa's three sisters, Somaia, Fatima and Omaima were also arrested in 2013 but were later released on bail and returned to Dublin.

All three, who were tried in absentia, were acquitted.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney took to Twiter to issue a short statement on the issue:

"Delighted to confirm Ibrahim Halawa has been released, being supported by family and Embassy. Some formalities still required before flying home," he said.

Ibrahim Halawa has been acquitted of all charges

Mr Halawa's release from prison was never likely to be immediate due to the bureaucracy surrounding such releases under Egyptian law.

Prior to his release the Taoiseach had written to Egyptian President el Sisi requesting his assistance to expedite the process.

Requests to expedite the release of the young Irishman were denied however.

In their last visit to Mr Halawa in prison on October 12 he was described by officials as being in good spirits and looking forward to his return to Ireland.

Human Rights lawyer Darragh Mackin who represented Mr Halawa said in a statement online last night:

"Tonight, Ibrahim Halawa is a free man".

It is understood part of the delay in Mr Halawa's release is that Egyptian authorities wanted to process all acquittals and sentences at once in relation to the mass trial which saw Mr Halawa being tried alongside more than 400 defendants.

halawa 002.jpg
Sisters of Ibrahim Halawa celebrating the news of his acquittal on charges relating to mass protests in Cairo four years ago. l-r; Somaia, Fatima, Khadiza and Somaia. Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Travel documents will also have to be issued to allow him to return to Ireland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in a statement to this week said that, in keeping with the family's wishes, details of his return to Ireland would not be released.

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