Irish national Ibrahim Halawa released after four years unlawfully detained in an Egyptian prison
Today’s release of Irish citizen Ibrahimn Halawa is a resounding victory for those who have campaigned on his behalf and brings to an end his painful four-year ordeal behind bars in an Egyptian prison, said Amnesty International.
Ibrahim Halawa release from Wadi al-Natroun prison is long overdue after more than one month from his acquittal date. He is due to arrive home to Ireland in the coming days. Amnesty International has been campaigning for his release since he was first arrested four years ago at a protest in Cairo. Thousands of Amnesty International supporters in dozens of countries signed petitions calling on the authorities to set him free during the years he was detained.
“After four years of unjust detention, today Ibrahim Halawa finally walks free. He should never have been jailed in the first place and it is utterly outrageous that he was forced to spend a single minute of his young life behind bars.” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.
“Today is not just a day of celebration for Ibrahim Halawa it is a triumphant day for all his friends, family members and the thousands of activists in Ireland and across the globe who fought long and hard to campaign for his release and put an end to his agonizing ordeal. His acquittal and release shows that by standing up for human rights and speaking out persistently in the face of injustice, people have the power to make a real difference.
“The Egyptian authorities must now take urgent steps to release all other prisoners of conscience in their custody. No one should have to face the injustice he was forced to suffer.”
Ibrahim Halawa was arrested aged just 17 along with hundreds of others during protests on 16 and 17 August 2013 around al-Fath Mosque in downtown Cairo. The protests descended into violence which the security forces responded to by using excessive lethal force that left at least 97 people killed, but according to Amnesty International’s research there is no evidence to indicate he was involved in any of the violence. The organization believes he was jailed for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
He was eventually acquitted on 18 September 2017, but 442 others were sentenced after a deeply unfair mass trial. Amnesty International is calling for all others who have been sentenced for peacefully exercising their rights to be immediately released.