Belfast Telegraph

Irishman Ibrahim Halawa acquitted after spending four years in prison

Irishman Ibrahim Halawa has been acquitted after spending four years in Egyptian prison.

Mr Halawa was arrested in Cairo when he was 17 in the aftermath of protests held by the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

He had been tried alongside 492 other prisoners.

It has been confirmed that Mr Halawa's sisters - who were arrested at the same time as their brother but able to leave the country after three months - were also acquitted.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney welcomed the news.

Issuing a statement from New York where he is attending the UN General Assembly, he 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.  

"My thoughts are with Ibrahim and his family at this time of great emotion for them.

"The government’s priority now is to support Ibrahim and his family in every way that we can in order to ensure that Ibrahim is able to return home to his family and friends as soon as possible."

He added that there are a number of practical issues that will have to be dealt with before Mr Halawa is able to return home.

While Mr Halawa has been acquitted, it could be some time before he is released from prison due to the formalities required by the Egyptian justice and prison systems.

It is also thought that his leaving the country could be further delayed by issues around his immigration status to leave Egypt.

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