American Students Released by Courts, Still in Egyptian Custody
In a nervous, relieved, and clearly emotional interview, Joy Sweeney, mother of arrested American student Derrick Sweeney told local radio and CNN that she had spoken with her son and told him about “the outpouring of love” sent to him, saying he had responded “I love people” and was elated almost to the point of tears. “So many people sent from God…all these prayers…have been answered.” Sweeney called it “another day of emotional roller coaster” saying “hopefully the ride will be over soon … the good news is we can all see the light of day…and it will be coming to a resolution that we are truly looking forward.”
Derrick Sweeney, Luke Gates and Gregory Porter, all exchange students at the American University in Cairo, were taken into custody Sunday at a University building near Tahrir Square in Cairo, accused of throwing Molotov cocktails – firebombs – from the roof of a university building, aimed at security guards. The three were attending American University Cairo on a semester-long, study-abroad program.
Thursday, the Egyptian prosecutor’s office said the students had “already been released…(but) could remain in custody for a few more days.” Their release has been sanctioned by the Abdeen Court in Cairo and no appeal was expected from the state prosecutor. Following a medical examination, they were to be returned to the police station for the processing of paperwork, and only then released to the American Consulate or be allowed to return to their dormitory rooms.
With their faces and news of their arrest broadcast throughout Egypt, U.S. Consul General in Cairo Roberto Powers, has “strongly advised” that the students leave Egypt telling Joy Sweeny it would not be “safe or prudent for the students to stay in the country.” Embassy spokeswoman Katharina Gollner-Sweet said the students “were ordered released in the court, but they are in an administrative out-processing stage.”
Late Friday afternoon, The Algemeiner spoke with Noel Clay at the United States State Department who confirmed that the US was “providing all appropriate consular assistance.” While the students remained in Egyptian custody, their release is currently being processed. Clay noted that the “State is in contact with the students and their families through the American Embassy in Cairo.”
There have been 38 deaths among those protesting the rule of the military which has controlled Egypt since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in the early days of the “Arab Spring.” The military leaders are said to have apologized for the deaths, and will prosecute offenders and pay the medical bills of the approximately 3,250 injured, according to Hisham Shiha of Egypt’s Health Ministry.