Derrik Sweeney (COL ’13) and the two other American students detained in Egypt Tuesday were questioned by authorities for over eight hours until about midnight Wednesday in Cairo.
The Sweeney family was able to speak with the detained student in a brief phone conversation earlier today. Speaking to his mother, Joy, Sweeney said he was at the protests but denied all other accusations made against him.
In a television interview with CNN just after 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Joy Sweeney said she has received conflicting information about the next steps in her son’s case. Originally told that a resolution was unlikely to come before Tuesday, Sweeney said her husband heard within the last hour from the U.S. State Department that the students will face a hearing at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Nicole Sweeney, Derrik’s sister, also said a hearing is scheduled for Thursday. She said that she expects her brother to either be charged or released at that time.
According to Joy Sweeney, her son is being held in the same cell as the two other students with whom he was arrested, Greg Porter of Drexel University and Luke Gates of Indiana University.
The three students, who are all studying abroad at the American University in Cairo, were detained Tuesday for allegedly participating in violent protests in the city’s Tahrir Square, where security forces have contended for five days with protesters demanding the resignation of the country’s military leaders. The students have been accused of clashing with police and throwing Molotov cocktails.
According to AUC’s Director of Communications for North America, Morgan Roth, the three students were first interviewed around midnight Tuesday at the Abdeen courthouse, with an embassy lawyer present, before being moved to a prosecutor’s office in the southern part of the city. They were moved again Wednesday prior to undergoing a second round of questioning.
Though the AUC said it sent representatives to the courthouse Tuesday, it was initially unclear as to whether or not the students had actually been interviewed. Roth said she didn’t think it was unusual that the students would be questioned twice before charges were filed.
Noel Clay, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said that the embassy in Cairo was working closely with the three students and their families.
“We were able to visit the three detained U.S. citizens in Cairo,” he said, adding that he did not have further information about the proceedings.
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