Skip to main content

'Still feels like a dream': Halawa arrives home after four years in Egyptian jail

Ibrahim Halawa vows to campaign to free innocent people imprisoned in Egypt and around the world after being released
Ibrahim Halawa on plane home with his sister and Irish ambassador to Egypt (Instagram: Ibrahim Halawa)

Ibrahim Halawa has returned home to Dublin after being acquitted of all charges after spending four years imprisoned in Egypt. 

Speaking to supporters and the press who had gathered at Dublin airport, Halawa, now 21, said it "still felt like a dream to be free" and that hundreds of innocent of people remained imprisoned in Egypt. 

"It still feels like a dream, this is the moment that I have been waiting for four years," said a jubilant Halawa who was hugged by friends and well-wishers. 

"Still a lot of cellmates left behind, there's still a lot of innocent people behind bars around the world, not just in Egypt." 

Halawa had a private reunion with his family in Dublin airport before meeting other supporters and the press. 

His release comes as thousands of people remain imprisoned in Egypt following a crackdown by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who toppled Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's democratically elected president. 

Halawa was arrested in Cairo in August 2013 when he was 17 years old amid protests against the toppling of Morsi.

He was one of almost 500 arrested and charged in a mass trial in Egypt and imprisoned alongside Australian journalist, Peter Greste. 

For his future plans, Halawa said he hoped to be working to help homeless people and human rights groups to bring back Irish citizens convicted or arrested abroad to be taken back to Ireland to serve their time.

"I am going to hopefully be working to release all these people around the world and Irish people. 

"Even if they are criminals who have been convicted abroad, I am going to be asking them to be taken back to Ireland and do their time here. 

"I was hoping that the least I could get was being imprisoned here in Ireland so I could at least see my family." 

He thanked the Irish government, the myriad of human rights groups and student unions who had fought for his freedom. "I am going to be helping a lot of homeless people and hopefully get my life straight and go back to college. Thank you all so much."

Halawa said that he intended to spend the next few days catching up with family and his mother who was recently diagnosed with cancer. 

Despite being acquitted of all charges and cleared for release, his return to Dublin was delayed for weeks as new travel documents had to be issued for him. 

He has denied in social media posts and during the campaign to release him that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and that he ever supported them. 

Images posted on social media showed Halawa accompanied with his sister, Nasaybi, and the Irish ambassador to Egypt, Sean O'Regan, on a Lufthansa flight back to Ireland. 

Son of a prominent Dublin Muslim leader, Hussein Halawa, Ibrahim was a student at the time of his arrest. 

His three sisters, Somaia, Fatima and Omaima, were arrested during the crackdown but later released on bail and returned to Dublin. They were later acquitted following a trial in absentia.