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'Ibrahim is a tough guy - he'll make it,' says freed cellmate


Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim Halawa

A journalist who shared an Egyptian prison cell with Irish inmate Ibrahim Halawa has said the teenager will cope with “whatever may come”.

Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste was released from jail earlier this month having previously been found guilty of “spreading false news”.

The Latvian-Australian was locked up for more than 400 days, with four months of his sentence spent in a cell with Ibrahim.

Greste described the teenager as “pretty tough” and a person who has “been through a lot”.

“I shared a cell with him for nearly four months. He was there when I left. I said goodbye and gave him a hug as I do with other cellmates,” he said.

“He is a remarkable character and a pretty tough bloke. He has also grown a lot.”

Greste said Ibrahim has had good and bad times, but is coping well.

“Obviously as anyone who has been imprisoned for such a long period of time you go through your ups and downs, but he’s remarkably strong and I’m pretty sure he’s got what it takes to cope with whatever might come in the near future,” he told RTE radio.

“He’s concerned as anyone would be in his position. His situation is very concerning indeed. As with all of us, he’s insisting he’s innocent and we simply have to let the Egyptian judicial system take its course.


“Obviously it needs to work the way it does, but I’m not sure what else I can say at this point.”

Ibrahim was only 17 when he was arrested 17 months ago during city-wide protests in Cairo and has spent 16 months in the notorious Torah prison.

During his time behind bars, Ibrahim, who is the son of Ireland’s most senior Muslim cleric, said he has been beaten by guards and was on hunger strike for some time.

He was arrested during the Al Fateh Mosque siege in the Egyptian capital in August 2013.

Military officers stormed the mosque in a series of attempts to quash pro-Mohamed Morsi demonstrations after the then president was ousted.

Three of Ibrahim’s sisters were also jailed and spent three months in prison before they were released and returned home to Ireland.

During the summer, Ibrahim said he was subjected to severe treatment by the guards in the dreaded Scorpion section of Torah prison.

He was moved to a different cell along with three jailed Al Jazeera journalists after he was allegedly beaten with chains.