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Sunday 26 March 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# Egypt
'We got support because my name was Peter, not Ibrahim.'
Freed Australian journalist Peter Greste criticises the Irish government for failing to help Ibrahim Halawa.

THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST who shared an Egyptian jail cell with imprisoned Dublin student, Ibrahim Halawa, has criticised the Irish government for failing to come to his aid.

In an interview with RTÉ’s Documentary on One, Peter Greste said he believes Halawa, who has been in jail for nearly three years, is a victim of his dual Irish/Egyptian nationality.

“We got support because my name was Peter, not Ibrahim, and we got support because I had a family who were articulate and comfortable in front of cameras,” Greste told Documentary on One: Cairo Cellmates, which will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 this afternoon.

We got the support of lots of friends in the media who understood that I wasn’t involved and were outraged at what happened to us.
Ibrahim does not have friends in media. People don’t know who he is and do not have a personal stake in his story. I was lucky. Ibrahim has not been so lucky.

Halawa has been imprisoned without trial since August 2013, when the then-17-year-old was arrested during a siege of the Al-Fath mosque in Cairo.

His trial has been adjourned 13 times and he is now expected to stand trial on 26 June on terrorism-related charges – along with 393 other defendants.

Recently, he wrote a letter from prison documenting the torture he experiences and witnesses on a daily basis. He said he has been beaten with AK47s and plumbing bars, stripped, punched, kicked and dragged during his time behind bars.

Greste spent 400 days in an Egyptian prison after he and his Al Jazeera colleagues were falsely accused of aiding and financing a terrorist organisation and spreading ‘false news’. He was released in February 2015 after the Australian government applied intense pressure on the Egyptian government.

Australia Al Jazeera Tertius Pickard Tertius Pickard

Speaking for the first time about Halawa’s situation, Greste said he believes it is incumbent on the Irish government and the EU to do the same.


“It seems wrong to me that Ibrahim does not get the same level of support as I did, as his situation is every bit is bad if not worse than ours,” Greste said. “The Irish government has a responsibility to lobby very hard for due process to secure his release.”

Greste said conversations about Halawa’s relationship to Egypt and his “supposed politics” have to be put to one side.

They are irrelevant to the central issue that Ibrahim Halawa has been denied due process, even by Egyptian standards. He has been detained far longer than legally allowed, been denied the opportunity to defend himself in court and there is no evidence.
It is incumbent on the Irish government to defend and argue those points – what he believes in is beside the point.

Both the EU and the UN have called for an end to Halawa’s detention in the continued absence of due process.

The Irish government has previously said it is “continuing to pursue every constructive avenue” to secure Halawa’s release, while “avoiding any action that could be counterproductive or detrimental to (his) best interests”.

Documentary on One: Cairo Cellmates will be available online today from 1pm and aired on Radio 1 at 2pm. 

Read: “They hold a man’s arm against the curb and you hear it break when they kick it.”

Read: ’1,000 days have felt like 1,000 years’ – Irish student still in Egyptian prison

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