Egypt releases Irish citizen after four years in jail

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Egypt releases Irish citizen after four years in jail

Cairo (AFP) - Egypt on Friday released an Irish citizen who spent four years in jail over accusations he took part in August 2013 clashes with police, a security official said.

Ibrahim Halawa, who has an Egyptian background, was arrested in Cairo after the fighting between police and supporters of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi who were protesting his July 2013 ouster by the military.

An Egyptian court in September acquitted Halawa and 51 co-defendants, including three of his sisters, who were released while on trial in November 2013 before they travelled back to Ireland.

The security official told AFP that authorities had "verified that (Halawa) was not wanted in connection with any other case, and that no arrest warrant had been issued against him, so he was released".

Halawa posted on Facebook: "Finally the day where I can see the sky without bars, smell fresh air, walk freely and smile deeply from the bottom of my heart. But I miss one thing and it's being home."

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he was "delighted" to hear of Halawa's release.

"The government is helping to bring him back to Ireland, to reunite him with his family and allow him to get back to his life," he said in comments carried by Ireland's national broadcaster RTE.

Since Morsi's ouster, Egyptian authorities have carried out a sweeping crackdown against supporters and members of the toppled president's Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements.