Latest: Free Ibrahim Halawa campaign praises role of Irish embassy in Egypt

Update 3.30pm: Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said she hopes freed Ibrahim Halawa will be home in Ireland soon.

"My understanding and hope now is it will be fairly quick. The most extraordinary thing of course is that he has been acquitted and he is now free and that he is coming home to his family," she said.

Mr Halawa is celebrating his first day of freedom after being released from an Egyptian jail overnight.

Last month, he was cleared of all charges after spending four years in custody.

Update 1pm: The campaign to free Ibrahim Halawa has today praised the Irish embassy in Egypt for its help following the Dublin man’s release from an Egyptian prison.

Releasing a new picture of Ibrahim on their campaign’s Facebook page today, ambassador Sean O'Regan was singled out for praise.


To see this post on Facebook, click here.

Update 10am: One of Ibrahim Halawa’s sisters fainted as he was released from jail, the family have revealed.

Nosayba Halawa was in Egypt to greet the 21-year-old Dubliner as he was released after more than four years in custody.

The Dubliner was acquitted of all charges last month but it has taken weeks for his release to be completed.

Speaking at the family home in Firhouse in Dublin, Fatima Halawa said they got the good news late last night.

"We were all heading to bed," she said.

"Dad comes from inside, and he's screaming, and we didn't understand why he's screaming, and we realise he's on the phone to Ibrahim, and then he's rushing up the stairs and he's like: 'I'll give you Mum now, I'll give you Mum now'.

"And we heard later on from our family friends that when he was released, Nosayba actually fainted!"


To see this post on Facebook, click here.

Update 8.26am: The Taoiseach has expressed "delight" at the release of Ibrahim Halawa from prison in Egypt, writes Elaine Loughlin

Speaking as he arrived at the second day of the EU Council Summit in Brussels this morning, Leo Varadkar said Mr Halawa had spent "far too long" in jail and appealed for his privacy to be respected.

The 21-year-old Irishman, who had been detained since 2013, was last night released from prison after last month being acquitted of all charges relation to Cairo demonstrations.

Mr Varadkar said: "I am really really delighted to hear that Ibrahim Halawa has been released from prison.

"He is receiving full consular assistance at the moment. We are helping him to get back to Ireland where he will be reunited with his family and hopefully he will get on with his life and get on with his studies.

"He spent far too long in a different prison but I am delighted that he is now out.

"I would as people to respect his family's wishes for privacy," the Taoiseach said.

Earlier:

The Irishman jailed in Egypt for more than four years, Ibrahim Halawa, has been freed from prison.

His supporters and authorities revealed the 21-year-old had been released from jail in Cairo more than four weeks on from his acquittal over Muslim Brotherhood protests.

A message on the Free Ibrahim Halawa Facebook page welcomed his freedom and said plans for his repatriation are being made.

Mr Halawa, from Dublin, was cleared last month of all charges connected to mass protests in Cairo in August 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood's so-called Day of Rage.

A student and son of a prominent Muslim cleric in Dublin - Sheikh Hussein Halawa - he was prosecuted in a mass trial after being detained in a mosque near Ramses Square in Cairo amid protests over the removal of president Mohamed Morsi.

He was 17 at the time. His three sisters - Somaia, Fatima and Omaima - were also arrested during the crackdown but later released on bail and returned to Dublin.

They were acquitted following trial in absentia.

Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan, who campaigned on his behalf, tweeted: "Great news coming out of Cairo. #IbrahimHalawa is free - 4 years of illegal imprisonment, but now focus is on getting him home #FreeIbrahim."

Darragh Mackin, Mr Halawa's solicitor, said: "Ibrahim Halawa is finally a free man."

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, on a trip to Australia, also welcomed the news.

"The release of Ibrahim Halawa will come as a great relief to his family," he said.

"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."

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney confirmed that Ibrahim has been released from custody in Cairo.

The Irish Ambassador to Egypt, Sean O'Regan, confirmed that Ibrahim had been release at approximately 11pm Irish time.

Ambassador O'Regan and the Embassy team are providing Ibrahim with every appropriate support following his release.

Minister Coveney said: "I am delighted that Ibrahim has finally been released after his long and difficult ordeal, and that he will soon be able to return home and be reunited with his family.

"I know that Ibrahim and his family have asked for privacy during this time and I hope that this will be respected. Ibrahim has been through a lot, and I think we all need to give him the time and space that he needs.

"On behalf of the Government, I want to make clear that all appropriate ongoing support that Ibrahim requires in the period ahead will be available to him.

"I would like to take this opportunity today to express on behalf of the Government my appreciation to the hardworking team in my Department's Consular Directorate, and also and especially to our Ambassador in Cairo, Sean O'Regan, his predecessors and their team, for all that they have done, and are continuing to do, to support this Irish citizen and to work to ensure his safe return home to Ireland.

This is a great moment for Ibrahim and his family - a moment for celebration, and a moment for savouring freedom, and I want to wish Ibrahim Halawa and his family all health and happiness for the future."


KEYWORDS: Ibrahim Halawa

 

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