21:12 GMT +319 August 2019
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    'Dad, Dad... I Am Free!' Joy as Irishman Released From Egypt Jail

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    An Irishman has finally been freed after spending more than four years in prison in Egypt, having originally visited the country on a family summer holiday.

    Ibrahim Halawa, who is from Dublin, was eventually released from jail in Cairo late on Thursday, October 19 — more than four weeks after he was acquitted on all charges related to a mass protest over the removal of the then Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.

    Plans for his repatriation are now being made by the Irish authorities to allow him to return home to Ireland on either Sunday or Monday, following the sudden release of the 21-year-old.

    Simon Coveney, the Irish Foreign Minister, outlined the formalities surrounding his return, saying:

    "We need to get that immigration stamp. In order to do that he needs to turn up in person at the immigration ministry. The timing and problem with that is we are in the Egyptian weekend, which is Friday and Saturday. That office is not open on a Friday and has very limited opening on a Saturday, so we are obviously working to get him home as quickly as possible but it will be either Sunday or Monday by the time he is home I suspect."

    In an emotional call to his family after being freed from the police station that he was originally detained in, Mr. Halawa, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, said:

    "Dad, dad! I left prison! I'm on the streets! Dad, I'm free!"

    Speaking on Friday, October 20, his father Hussein Halawa — who is the imam of Ireland's largest mosque in Clonskeagh, Dublin, said: "I was speechless when I spoke to him on the phone. I didn't know what to say. Do I say I missed him, or thank God it's over, the words were scattered in my mind. Yesterday when I was speaking to him he said I've left prison a man. For four years [Ibrahim] hasn't seen the sun except for maybe brief moments."

    News of his release was welcomed by Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach (prime minister), who confirmed he was receiving full consular assistance. 

    During a visit to Australia, Michael D.Higgins, Ireland's president, said 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 added.

    Campaigners posted a message on the Free Ibrahim Halawa Facebook page welcoming the decision to release him after he was arrested by Egyptian security forces during a siege at the Al-Fath mosque in Cairo in August 2013.

    Following a tense between anti-government protesters in support of the ousted President Morsi, bloody clashes erupted in which more than 170 people died.

    The teenager and 500 others, including three of his sisters, were accused of inciting violence, riot and sabbotage. While his sisters were allowed to return home within three months, their teenage brother remained in jail.

    As a result of the mass arrests, it has taken years for many of the cases to finally be heard in court. During his time in jail, the Irishman staged a number of hunger strikes in protest against his continued detention without trial.

    After 20 adjournments, his case was finally heard on Monday, September 18, when he was finally acquitted on all of the charges. If he had been found guilty there was the risk that he faced the death penalty.


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