Egypt being lobbied regularly on Ibrahim Halawa, says Minister

Charlie Flanagan in contact with Egyptian counterpart to argue case for Irish teenager

Ibrahim Halawa  was one of 493 people arrested for their alleged role in violence during protests  on August 16th and 17th, 2013, in the Ramisis area of central Cairo in Egypt.

Ibrahim Halawa was one of 493 people arrested for their alleged role in violence during protests on August 16th and 17th, 2013, in the Ramisis area of central Cairo in Egypt.

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said he has been in regular contact with his Egyptian counterpart to argue the case for the release of Ibrahim Halawa, the Irish teenager incarcerated in a Cairo jail and facing a possible death penalty.

Mr Halawa was one of 493 people arrested for their alleged role in violence during protests that took place on August 16th and 17th, 2013, in the Ramisis area of central Cairo.

The mass trial of the defendants commenced on March 29th and has been adjourned until April 26th.

If convicted, Mr Halawa and others could face the death penalty.

Inaccurate reports

In a letter to the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Pat Breen, Mr Flanagan corrects some inaccurate reports relating to Mr Halawa that have appeared in recent weeks.

Mr Flanagan said there was no basis to reports Mr Halawa was “being tortured at Wadi Al-Natrun [prison], and being held on death row, there were further recent suggestions that he had gone missing from the prison.

“The day after these reports were received, an Irish Embassy official conducted a routine and previously planned consular visit - the 37th such visit to Ibrahim since he was detained.

“At this meeting it was clear that he had not gone missing; there may have been a misunderstanding as to what part of the prison he was detained in.

“Following requests made by the Irish Ambassador, Ibrahim is no longer sharing a cell with convicted criminals. He is now sharing a cell with other remand detainees from his trial,” wrote Mr Flanagan.

Egyptian counterpart

He also discloses in the update to the committee that he has spoken to his Egyptian counterpart, Minister Shoukry, to underline the Government’s backing for formal applications that have been made for the teenager’s release.

“I again took the opportunity to highlight key humanitarian concerns – including this citizen’s youth, his absence from his studies and the length of time in detention without conviction.

“I have again in recent days discussed this case with the EU’s High Representative on Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini.

“The EU remains supportive of our position, and on numerous occasions have raised their support for our concerns at appropriate opportunities with the Egyptian authorities at a high-level,” he stated in the letter.

Government’s intentions

Mr Flanagan also emphasised that the Government’s intentions are clear and consistent: “Firstly to see Ibrahim Halawa released by the Egyptian authorities so that he can return to his family and his studies in Ireland, and secondly to provide consular support for his welfare while he remains in detention.

“The considered approach and sustained action that has been taken by me and my officials in this case to date has been to further these objectives, and most importantly to avoid any action that could be counterproductive or detrimental to Ibrahim’s best interests.”

In that context he has argued that because of the case being in session, “any inappropriate escalation of political intervention at this time could be counter-productive” to Mr Halawa’s case.