Derrik Sweeney (COL ’13) and the two other American students detained in Cairo Tuesday were released from police custody yesterday and have all left Egypt as of this morning.
Though an Egyptian judge ordered that the students, who are all studying abroad at the American University in Cairo, be released Thursday, delays in processing their paperwork initially suggested that the students would not be released until Sunday.
Speaking at around 5:30 p.m. Friday, Joy Sweeney, Derrik’s mother, said the students had been freed moments ago and were being escorted to the airport by Egyptian officials. Her son’s flight left at about 10:45 a.m. Saturday in Cairo, and he is expected to be reunited with his family in Missouri late Saturday night.
“I cannot wait,” Joy Sweeney said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Sweeney also said she was able to speak with her son earlier Friday afternoon.
“He’s just so ecstatic to be on his way home,” she said.
Derrik Sweeney, along with Drexel University student Greg Porter and Indiana University student Luke Gates, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly participating in violent demonstrations in Cairo’s TahrirSquare. The three students were accused of throwing Molotov cocktails and clashing with police.
After a hearing Thursday, an Egyptian judge decided not to charge the students and instead to release them.
But after the students underwent medical exams Thursday required for their release, Egyptian officials determined there was not enough time left in the work day to file necessary paperwork. Friday and Saturday comprise the Egyptian weekend, so the Sweeney family thought that Sunday was the earliest Derrik would be released.
The students were held in a cell at the Kasr El Aini police station after the hearing, where officials fromAUC were able to visit them for the first time since their arrest.
Joy Sweeney said that many concerned about the three students contacted Egyptian officials, which expedited the release.
“Somebody was able to get ahold of somebody … that would work over hours,” she said.
At around 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, Sweeney was asked to book a flight out of the country for her son. The students are not being allowed to return to their AUC dorms to collect their belongings.
Sweeney, whose flight was the last of all the departing students’ flight, remained in the airport until his departure.
“His flight doesn’t leave until morning, but at least he’s spending the night out of police custody,” Nicole Sweeney, Derrik’s sister, wrote in an email Friday evening. “Basically, [the three students] are being deported.”
Sweeney’s mother said she wasn’t worried about his belongings or anything else and was just glad that her son was finally on his way home.
“Nothing else matters,” she said.