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Charlie Flanagan says 'substantial resources' are being deployed to secure Halawa's release

Ibrahim Halawa has been in an Egyptian jail for three-and-a-half years.

Image: RollingNews.ie/Somaia Halawa

FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER Charlie Flanagan says that the Irish government is doing ”everything it possibly can” to get Ibrahim Halawa released from jail and returned to Ireland.

Responding to a Dáil question from Paul Murphy TD this week, Flanagan said that the case is a “top priority” for the government.

“Substantial resources and time are being devoted to it not only be me but by the Taoiseach, officials in my department and the Taoiseach’s department by our ambassador and his team in Cairo and by the entire diplomatic network,” Flanagan said.

Murphy was asking the minister about the government’s commitment to the case on foot of the recent visit paid by himself and other deputies to Egypt to visit Halawa.

“He is in a maximum security prison, which is supposedly only for those who have been convicted of serious offences. He has not been convicted of anything; he is effectively being interned,” Murphy said.

Halawa has been jailed in Egypt since August 2013 after he was arrested at a protest in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been ousted from power by the Egyptian military.

Egyptian authorities have persisted in putting Halawa on trial with 494 other defendants in a mass trial that observers have said has contributed to the repeated delays in the process.

It led to the 18th postponement of Halawa’s trial earlier this month, but Flanagan has voiced optimism that the latest hearing suggested that the trial may be entering a “substantive phase”.

“The trial, in which our citizen is a defendant along with more than 400 others. was back in court for a further hearing on 17 January,” Flangan said.

The hearing saw witnesses called and cross-examined for the first time since the trial began. This may be an indication that the trial has now at last moved into a substantive phase and that a conclusion may finally be in prospect.

Read: Egyptian President refuses to release Ibrahim Halawa but says he can return to Ireland after his trial >

Read: Egyptian president ‘willing’ to use pardon powers for Ibrahim Halawa >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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