Belfast Telegraph

Government frustrated by delay in releasing Ibrahim Halawa from Egyptian jail

The Government has said it shares the frustration over the delays in the release of Ibrahim Halawa from prison in Egypt.

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.

Mr Halawa's release was never likely to be immediate but next Monday marks four weeks since the verdict.

In a statement on the protracted release, the Department of Foreign Affairs said embassy officials in Cairo visited him in jail on Thursday.

Mr Halawa was said to be in good spirits and looking forward to returning to Ireland soon.

"The Egyptian authorities maintain that there is a process which must be followed in respect of all of the defendants in the trial, and that there are a number of steps remaining to be gone through," the department said.

"The Irish authorities and Ibrahim's legal representatives are maintaining maximum pressure on the Egyptian authorities in relation to this process."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has written to Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi asking him to help expedite the release.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has also been in direct contact with his counterpart Sameh Shoukry about the issue.

Mr Halawa, a student and son of a prominent Muslim cleric in Dublin - Sheikh Hussein Halawa - was jailed after being detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo four years ago amid protests over the removal of president Mohamed Morsi. He was 17 at the time.

He has been cleared of all charges in a mass trial of nearly 500 people.

It is understood part of the delay in Mr Halawa's release is that Egyptian authorities are processing all acquittals and sentences.

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

His three sisters - Somaia, Fatima and Omaima - were also arrested during the crackdown but later released on bail and returned to Dublin and were acquitted following trial in absentia.

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