Concerns over Peter Greste’s young Irish cellmate

February 2, 2015

An Irish teenager who had been sharing a cell with freed Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste is still no closer to freedom, his lawyers have said.

Ibrahim Halawa, from Dublin, was 17 when he was caught up in a sweeping military crackdown on protests in Cairo in August 2013. Despite being legally a juvenile, he is in prison awaiting trial as an adult alongside 493 other prisoners, on largely identical charges.

Mr Halawa and his 493 co-defendants face potential execution if convicted. Concerns about their fate were raised this morning after another Egyptian court handed down death sentences to 183 political prisoners.

Mr Halawa had been sharing a cell in Cairo’s Tora prison with Mr Greste before the Al Jazeera correspondent was freed yesterday. Mr Halawa, who recently spent his 19th birthday in prison, has suffered repeated abuse during his 2-year detention, including torture and denial of medical attention. He has reportedly been told by his captors that he will be executed, and that his ‘European passport’ will not save him.

Egypt’s mass trial proceedings, in which death sentences have sometimes been handed down en masse, have attracted condemnation from the UN, US, and Egyptian rights groups.

A new hearing in the trial of the 494, including Mr Halawa, is expected to take place next Sunday (8th).

Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Halawa, said:

“While it’s extremely welcome to see Peter Greste freed, the real test of Egypt’s commitment to justice will be its treatment of the hundreds of others facing potential execution for the mere ‘crime’ of attending a protest – including young people like Ibrahim Halawa. The Egyptian authorities are still a long way to ending the current wave of repression – just this morning saw 183 political prisoners sentenced to death. The international community must denounce these farcical show trials, and call for the release of Mr Halawa and the many more like him.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8160  / alice [DOT] gillham [AT] reprieve [DOT] org [DOT] uk

2. Further background on Ibrahim Halawa’s case can be found here.