No Government jet for freed Halawa

The Government jet will not now be scrambled to bring Ibrahim Halawa home, as had previously been suggested.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Dubliner, 21, who was freed late on Thursday night, will return by commercial flight but will be accompanied by the Irish ambassador to Cairo.

There was a broad welcome for the news that Mr Halawa has been released, a month after his acquittal.

The Taoiseach expressed “delight” at the release of Mr Halawa from prison in Egypt. Speaking as he arrived at the second day of the EU Council Summit in Brussels, Leo Varadkar said Mr Halawa spent “far too long” in jail and appealed for his privacy to be respected.

Mr Halawa, who was detained in 2013 at the age of 17, was released from prison after being acquitted last month of all charges relating to demonstrations in Cairo.

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 ask people to respect his family’s wishes for privacy.”

The Irish ambassador to Egypt, Sean O’Regan, confirmed that Mr Halawa was released at approximately 11pm Irish time last night.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney also said he is delighted that Mr Halawa has been released after his “long and difficult ordeal”.

He said: “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.

“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.”

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said that she hopes Mr Halawa will be home in Ireland soon.

“My understanding and hope now is it will be fairly quick,” said Ms Zappone. “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.”

President Michael D Higgins, who is on a State visit to Australia, welcomed Mr Halawa’s release. In a statement, President Higgins 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.”

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan expressed her delight at the news of his release: “Great news coming out of Cairo. Ibrahim Halawa is free after four years of illegal imprisonment, but now focus is on getting him home.”

Fianna Fáil spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Darragh O’Brien welcomed the release of Mr Halawa from Egyptian prison late last night.

“I and my colleagues in Fianna Fáil are relieved and delighted to learn of Ibrahim’s release from prison,” said Mr O’Brien.


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