Irish national Ibrahim Halawa, who has served the last four years in an Egyptian prison after being arrested during pro Mohamed Morsi demonstrations in Cairo in 2013, has been acquitted of all charges against him.
Morsi is the former Muslim Brotherhood President who was ousted in a military coup by current President Abdul-Fatah Sisi, who was then head of the military.
Halawa, 21, had been accused, along with 500 others, of inciting violence, riot and sabotage.
Right after his acquittal, Halawa jumped with joy, hugged fellow prisoners and had tears in his eyes. Irish Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said a swift return home should follow.
She said: “My thoughts, prayers and solidarity are with Ibrahim and his family, his dedicated legal team and everyone who I worked and campaigned with to bring us to this moment. It is important that all who campaigned over the past four years continue to co-operate to ensure Ibrahim’s return is arranged as soon as possible.”
She added: “The Halawa family… are among the most inspiring people I have campaigned side by side with.” She also praised their patience, persistence and dedication to their brother.
The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, said that he “wholeheartedly welcomed” the news. “Now that Ibrahim has been cleared of all charges, I expect he will be released as soon as possible and can return home to his family. The Government will facilitate his return home at the earliest opportunity”.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: “On behalf of the government and on my own behalf I welcome the news from Cairo that Ibrahim Halwa has been acquitted. This is the good news we had been hoping for. Ibrahim Halawa’s name has been cleared and his innocence is confirmed. I look forward to him being released from custody without delay.”
Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International stressed that “nothing can excuse” what Halawa went through. “He spent more than four years locked up in harrowing conditions in various different Egyptian prison cells, without access to proper medical care. He was unlawfully detained with no credible evidence to support the charges laid against him.”
And Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, who led a parliamentary delegation to Cairo to visit Ibrahim in January, said: “When I met Ibrahim in January, I expressed my hope that I would see him back in Dublin soon and while the process has been frustrating and long, I am delighted that Ibrahim will soon be reunited with his family back in Ireland.”