Ibrahim Halawa writes home on the three-year anniversary of his detention

Dublin student being held in Cairo jail says he is 'willing to die for freedom'

Ibrahim Halawa has described his longing to return to Ireland in a letter marking the three-year anniversary of his detention.

The young Dublin man has been held in an Egyptian prison since his arrest during demonstrations against the ousting of Mohammed Morsi in August 2013.

In a letter passed on to his sister, Mr Halawa apologised to his family and friends, but said he was “willing to die for freedom”.

“Irish people, I’m sorry that for three years you have been fighting for my release,” he wrote.

“I’m sorry for the years I have missed ... I’m sorry for missing out on all the Irish gatherings.

“I’m sorry I was stolen away from the warmth of the Irish laughter. I’m sorry for a limited language expressing limitless feelings.

“But I’m fighting for what you taught me to die for. I’m fighting for others to gain democracy like back home. I’m sorry but I’m willing to stay in prison for a right you taught me to hold onto.”

Amnesty International has recognised Mr Halawa as a prisoner of conscience and repeatedly called for his unconditional release.

The Dubliner was just 17 when he and his three sisters was arrested at the al-Fateh mosque in Cairo.

Their family say they were taking refuge after protests called by the Muslim Brotherhood turned violent.

The Halawa sisters returned to Ireland in November 2013 after being released on bail. Their brother’s trial has been delayed 14 times in the last three years. 

The government confirmed last week that it would be supporting a new legal application to release the Irishman from jail.

The request is being made by Mr Halawa’s lawyers under the Egyptian presidential decree, law 140, which allows foreign defendants to be repatriated back to their country of origin before sentencing.

The legal provision was used last year to free Australian journalist Peter Greste, whose deportation renewed hope for the Dubliner’s case.

Senators and TDs passed all-party motions last month calling for a full diplomatic effort to have the young man returned to Ireland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said concerns about the case are continually raised with the Egyptian government “at the highest levels”.

Ibrahim Halawa's full letter, dated August 17th, can be read here: 

“I’m sorry it has been three years. Dad, I’m sorry that for three years your son has been taken away from you without being able to see him. I’m sorry that you raised me to be righteous and ambitious. I’m sorry you wake up every morning knowing that you might never see me again. I’m sorry it has been three years.

“Mom, I’m sorry that for three years have been been chasing me from prison to prison. I’m sorry that you saw me dragged just because you wanted an extra minute to make sure your son is fine. I’m sorry you can’t be happy with me like most mothers. I’m sorry it has been three years.

“Nosaiba, Ahmed, Somaia, Khadija, Fatima and Omaima, I’m sorry for three years I couldn’t be there as a brother for you. I’m sorry I couldn’t be an uncle for your kids. Somaia and Omaima, I’m sorry I couldn’t be at your wedding to take [you] by your hand and make it the best day of your life. I’m sorry that standing up for your rights had us split up. I’m sorry it has been three years.

“Anas, my friend, I’m sorry that our plan we drew for ourselves in primary school has ended before it started. I’m sorry I can’t be your best friend. I’m sorry it has been three years.

“Ireland, I’m sorry I’ve been far away from you for three years. I’m sorry I can’t see your kind people. I’m sorry I can’t see your bright green colour. I’m sorry I can’t walk your beautiful mountains. I’m sorry I can’t breathe your reviving fresh air. I’m sorry I can’t soak from your pure raindrops.

“I’m sorry I can’t watch the city early in the morning as it gets busy. I’m sorry I can’t feel the happiness of the villages all around Ireland. I’m sorry I can’t watch the blue sea from your high cliff. I’m sorry it has been three years.

“Irish people, I’m sorry that for three years you have been fighting for my release. I’m sorry for the years I have missed between you. I’m sorry for missing out on all the Irish gatherings. I’m sorry I was stolen away from the warmth of the Irish laughter. I’m sorry for a limited language expressing limitless feelings.

“But I’m fighting for what you taught me to die for. I’m fighting for others to gain democracy like back home. I’m sorry but I’m willing to stay in prison for a right you taught me to hold onto. I’m sorry that I’m willing to die for freedom. I’m sorry it has been three years.”