Coveney confident Ibrahim Halawa will be home this week

Irish citizen was cleared of all charges relating to a protest in Cairo in August 2013

Since August 2013 Ibrahim Halawa has been imprisoned without trial in Egypt, just over four years later he was acquitted of all charge.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said he is "hopeful" that Ibrahim Halawa will be home by the middle of this week.

Mr Coveney said that a number of factors have delayed his release until now; some of which included the timing of his acquittal, which coincided with the Muslim New Year.

Last week, Mr Halawa (21) was cleared of all charges relating to a protest in August 2013 after the ousting of then president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, after four years of detention.

Mr Coveney told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the legal process in Egypt is different and that in order for a prisoner to be released, the prosecutor's office must formally inform the prison office.


He said he understood this letter has been drafted and he hopes to get a copy of it today.

When Mr Halawa is moved from the prison service to the security directorate, things should move quickly, he added.

“Once he moves from the prison service to the security directorate, the rest will happen very quickly - that’s what we’re told.

“We’re hoping that that may happen as soon as later on today. So I would be very hopeful and confident that we would see Ibrahim home before the middle of the week,” Mr Coveney said.

Meanwhile Mr Halawa’s family has said they do not yet know when he will return to Ireland. His brother-in-law Nour Gawwad said on Monday “a lot of things have to be done and he wants to be sure he gets his passport returned to prove when he entered the coutry.” Such evidence is required before he can leave. Mr Halawa was issued with a new passport last week by the Irish authorities.

There were “no plans” yet to mark his homecoming whenever that may take place, Mr Gawwad said.

Ibrahim’s mother, Amina, was due to have an operation last week but it was postponed to this week. “You couldn’ believe the change when she heard he had been proved innocent,” said Mr Gawwad.

Mr Halawa’s three sisters - Somaia, Fatima and Omaima - were also arrested but later released on bail and returned to Dublin.

All three, who were tried in absentia, were also acquitted last week. The family had gathered at their home in Firhouse to watch the live-streaming of proceedings from the Egyptian courtroom.

Mr Halawa's father, Sheikh Hussein Halawa, imam at the mosque in Clonskeagh; Ibrahim's mother, Amina; his sisters; brother Ahmed; in-laws; nieces; and nephews were all present.

Speaking to The Irish Times over the weekend, Mr Halawa said he wanted to thank the Irish people from the bottom of his heart, even those who disagreed with the family, but especially those who came from outside Dublin and travelled all the way to be there at demonstrations in support of his son’s case.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times