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Irish delegation to visit to imprisoned Irishman in Egypt

A delegation of Irish politicians travelling to Egypt tomorrow will be visiting imprisoned Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa. The delegation, which is led by Irish parliament speaker Sean O Fearghail, aims to raise awareness around the case of the imprisoned Irishman whilst meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

"The invitation is to meet with President Al-Sisi and members of his government and indeed with the secretary-general of the Arab League," O Fearghail explained. "In the course of these meetings we will be discussing a range of important, bilateral issues, and of course the issue of Ibrahim Halawa will be raised at those meetings." The 21-year-old dual Egyptian-Irish citizen has been in prison for the last three and half years since his arrest when he was just 17 years old.

Halawa was arrested during anti-government protests in Rabaa, Cairo, in 2013, after a military coup ousted the first freely elected President Mohamed Morsi, on charges of inciting violence, rioting and sabotage. Thousands were massacred in the crackdown while thousands more were arrested for their part in the protests.

Halawa's trial has been adjourned 17 times since his arrest with no clear indication when a decision will be reached on his case. If found guilty, Halawa could face the death penalty.

Ireland has continuously called for his release back to Ireland but has not had much success in convincing the Egyptian authorities of his innocence.

In July last year, Ireland's parliament passed motions that protested Halawa's detention that had cross-party backing however Egyptian parliamentarians shot down the motion arguing that it was a way for the country to interfere in its internal affairs.

Since Al-Sisi's presidency, tens of thousands of activists have been arrested and detained indefinitely as part of an ongoing campaign to suppress political dissent in the country.

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