Jefferson City teen among those arrested in Egypt
Sat, 26 Nov 2011 22:45:00 GMT —
Update: Sunday, November 27th at 3:35 p.m.:
An American student arrested during protests in Cairo says he feared for his life after he was taken into custody by four or five people in plain clothes.
Nineteen-year-old Derrik Sweeney tells The Associated Press in a Sunday interview via Skype that the evening started peacefully in Tahrir Square, where protesters have been gathering for more than a week.
He says he and others later wandered through the streets to the Interior Ministry but fled when shots were fired.
Sweeney says four or five "plain clothes Egyptians" then offered to lead the students to safety. He says they followed but found themselves taken into custody, beaten and threatened with guns.
Sweeney and the other two students flew back to the U.S. on Saturday after a court ordered them released.
Update: Saturday, November 26th at 4:45 p.m.:
An American student arrested during a protest in Cairo and later freed by an Egyptian court is back home in Philadelphia.
Nineteen-year-old Gregory Porter arrived at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday afternoon.
He is from nearby Glenside, Pennsylvania.
Derrik Sweeney, the student arrested in Egypt from Jefferson City, is expected to land in the United States in Saturday night.
The 19-year old and two other students were held since Monday night, after being accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail on security forces.
Derrik's mother Joy Sweeney said Derrik will land at Dulles International Airport, just outside of Washington D.C., just before 8 Saturday night and from there he will get on a plane for St. Louis which is scheduled to land at 10:30.
Joy Sweeney told us she spoke with her son when he landed in Frankfurt earlier she said he can TMt wait to get home and also said everyone is "ecstatic."
Joy plans to make her son a belated thanksgiving dinner.
She also thanks everyone for their support and well wishes.
Twenty-one-year-old Luke gates of Bloomington, Indiana is also expected to arrive on U.S. soil on tonight.
Update: Friday, November 25th at 2:54 p.m.:
The mother of one of three American students arrested during a protest in Cairo says they're preparing to leave Egypt. Joy Sweeney tells The Associated Press that her 19-year-old son Derrik and two other students are expected to fly from Cairo to Franfurt, Germany, late Friday U.S. time.
She says her son will fly from there to Washington on Saturday and then on to St. Louis, where he'll arrive late Saturday night. Sweeney says she's "ecstatic" and plans to make her son a belated Thanksgiving dinner.
The three college students who attend the American University in Cairo were arrested Sunday on the roof of a university building near Cairo's Tahrir Square. Officials accused them of throwing firebombs at security forces fighting with protesters. An Egyptian court ordered their release Thursday.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Update: Friday, November 25th at 2:34 p.m.:
According to CNN.com, the mother of one of the three boys being held in Egypt says Derrik Sweeney, Luke Gates and Gregory Porter are on their way to the airport in Cairo, Egypt, to get a flight back to the United States. We will have more on this breaking event as it becomes available.
Update: Thursday, November 24th at 9:15 a.m.:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The pending release of three American students arrested in Egypt during protests near Cairo's Tahrir Square is the best Thanksgiving gift, the mother of one of the young men said Thursday.
Joy Sweeney said the consul general confirmed around 6 a.m. Thursday that her 19-year-old son, Derrik Sweeney, will be released.
"I was elated, I was absolutely elated," Sweeney told The Associated Press. "I can't wait to give him a huge hug and tell him how much I love him."
Derrik Sweeney, a Georgetown University student, was arrested during protests Sunday near Tahrir Square. Also arrested was Luke Gates, a 21-year-old Indiana University student from Bloomington, Ind., and Gregory Porter, a 19-year-old Drexel University student from Glenside, Pa.
An Egyptian official has said the three were arrested on the roof of a university building where they were throwing firebombs at security forces fighting with protesters near Tahrir Square.
Sweeney said she started to receive emails around 3 a.m. Thursday indicating the three would be released but that the prosecuting attorney might yet seek an appeal. Then an attorney messaged to say no appeal was being sought and that the students would be released.
"It truly is (the best Thanksgiving gift)," she said. "Now it's just about getting him home."
Derrik Sweeney interned for U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., earlier this year. Luetkemeyer's spokesman Paul Sloca, said the congressman is "extremely pleased that he's safe and coming home, especially on Thanksgiving."
Joy Sweeney said she hoped her son would leave Egypt on Friday, but that this depended on how quickly he could find his passport in his dorm room.
"If he can find his passport (then he'll leave) tomorrow, if not, it won't be until Monday. So that's our big concern right now, whether or not he has his passport. We're not sure he knows where that is," she said.
Sweeney said she had not prepared for a Thanksgiving celebration, although a friend had taken her some food. She said the idea of a Thanksgiving feast had seemed "absolutely irrelevant" before the news of her son's pending freedom.
Asked what she thought her son would take away from his arrest, Sweeney said she thought he would make something useful of it.
"I'm sure that he'll put a life-lesson learning experience into a positive story," Sweeney said. "He's a writer, he will write about this experience."
Update: Thursday, November 24th at 7:05 a.m.: Joy Sweeney said her son Derrik will be freed from Egyptian police custody. Joy got word of that news around 6:30 Thursday morning.She said the three American students are being checked over by medical personnel before the are freed.No word on when they students will be released, or where they will go after their release. Update: Wednesday, November 23rd at 8:05 p.m.:
Jefferson City residents Joy and Kevin Sweeney spoke with their son, Derrik, Wednesday, for the first time since Egyptian officials arrested the 19-year-old on Tuesday.
Sweeney is a Georgetown University student studying abroad in Egypt. Egyptian authorities are detaining him and two other students, Luke Gates, a 21-year-old Indiana University student from Bloomington, Ind., and Gregory Porter, a 19-year-old Drexel University student from Glenside, Pa., on suspicion of participating in anti-government riots in Cairo.
Initial reports indicated the boys are accused of throwing fire bombs at security forces from the roof of a building on the American University campus.
An accusation Joy asked her son about. I said, ~We TMre hearing that you threw something off a roof, recalls Joy of the :90-second phone call with Derrik. He TMs like, ~No, we didn TMt, and we didn TMt do anything. I said, ~None of you did anything? TM He said, ~none of us, we didn TMt do anything wrong. TM
Kevin also said that the counselor general of the American Embassy in Egypt, basically indicated that their two biggest crimes where that they were out late at night, and where they were located.
The Sweeney TMs say the phone call was facilitated by a U.S. consulate official. The official told them no charges have been filed, but because of an Egyptian holiday on Friday and elections on Monday, it could be next week before the government decides whether to release Derrik.
Kevin Sweeney says he will travel to Cairo Monday if Derrik is still being held.
Update: Wednesday, November 23 at 12:05 p.m.: KRCG spoke with Kevin Sweeney late Wednesday morning.Kevin said his son, Derrik was able to call home from a military security building in the Cairo area where he's been transfered to.Derrik was able to talk to his mom for about two minutes. Joy Sweeney said he sounded healthy. Derrik told his mom he was being treated reasonably.Derrik said he was not throwing fire bombs like reports of his arrest have said. Derrik indicated he was on the roof of his school building watching the protest when he and two fellow students were singled out and arrested.The Sweeneys have been in touch with the U.S. State Department, Georgetown University and American University. Officials and the Sweeneys are hopeful Derrik will be released within a matter of days.
Update: Tuesday, November 22 at 10:00 p.m.: A Jefferson City family prays for the safe return of their teenage son.He's accused of throwing a fire bomb from a rooftop during a protest in Cairo.Egyptian security forces say they were the intended target.But the young man's parents say it can't be true.Kevin and Joy Sweeney say they've always encouraged their kids to make a difference in the world and they say that's exactly what they're doing.They have a son in Afghanistan and a daughter in Paris.But it's their 19-year-old son, Derrik, who is making headlines around the world.He's a Jefferson City High School graduate, a college student at Georgetown University, and over the past couple of months, he's has been studying abroad at American University in Cairo.Visiting Assistant Professor at Georgetown, Amin Bonnah said, "His presence in class was very basic for the activities we did in class. He was in the best sense helpful to other students. Funny. He create - this delight in classroom atmosphere."The Sweeney's first heard about their son's arrest Tuesday morning from Kevin's brother. A little before seven, he called and asked how is Derrik? And so we didn't know about this. So, I thought it was an odd question.", Joy Sweeney said.Protests in Cairo have raged for days. Demonstrators want the military-lead government to hand over power to civilian leaders.The Sweeney's invited us into their home Tuesday afternoon as they were about to see a Youtube video of Derrik for the first time.They say they're still in shock and can't believe this is happening to their son. "He's just very passive. He firmly believes in democracy, and I don't think that he would do anything to hurt anybody. He's definitely a scholar of the U.S Constitution for example so he's definitely aware that...DEMOCRACY is a major thing for him."
Update: Tuesday, November 22 at 11:45 a.m.: KRCG has a news crew on the way to Sweeney's house to talk to his family about what they are dealing with through the arrest.Sweeney's sister started tweeting about the incident on her Twitter account yesterday evening. She said the family is in contact with the state department about the situation, but are still waiting to hear information about his status. Update: Tuesday, November 22 at 10:40 a.m.: The Jefferson City teen arrested in Egypt is a student at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.Derrik Sweeney is studying at American University in Cairo for the semester.In a statement from Georgetown University, spokeswoman Stacy Kerr said they had been notified by the American University in Cairo that a Georgetown student, Derrik Sweeney, who is studying at the American University in Cairo, has been detained in Egypt.Georgetown University officials have been in communication with Derrik TMs family. University officials are also in touch with American University in Cairo officials, the U.S. State Department and embassy officials. Original Story:
CAIRO (CNN) -- CNN has confirmed that a young man arrested in Cairo, Egypt is a Jefferson City resident.19-year-old Derrik Sweeney was arrested Monday for allegedly throwing molotov cocktails during a protest in Tahrir Square. Sweeney is a student at American University in Cairo. Two other Americans were arrested along with Sweeney. 19-year-old Gregory Porter, of Glenside, Pennsylvania and 21-year-old Luke Gates, of Bloomington, Indiana were also arrested.The three American University students were arrested outside the Interior Ministry in Cairo. Authorities accuse them of throwing Molotov cocktails, said Adel Saeed, a spokesman for the office of Egypt's general prosecutor.David Lynfield, deputy press officer in the U.S. Embassy, said the "claims are being currently investigated." The university is working with the U.S. Embassy and is attempting to gather details and notify the students' families.Fresh violence broke out near the city's Tahrir Square on Tuesday. For several hours, protesters hurled stones at police and chanted, calling for the downfall of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. The military-led government began leading the country after protesters ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in February.Demonstrators apparently tried to defend Tahrir Square as they faced off with police on a connecting street. The square was once a hub for the movement that led to Mubarak's ouster and is now a center for the protests against Egypt's military rulers.Egyptian police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, forcing protesters to retreat briefly before they returned with renewed intensity.Demonstrators say they are concerned the military, which would continue to be Egypt's top authority until a president is in place, wants to keep a grip on the country. Many also have voiced anger about a proposed constitutional principle that would shield the military's budget from scrutiny by civilian powers.Tuesday's violence marks the fourth straight day of clashes between security forces and protesters, days ahead of the planned parliamentary election.Twenty-nine protesters have died in the clashes since Saturday, said Hisham Sheeha, spokesman for Egypt's Health Ministry. About 1,785 people have been injured, he said. Earlier, Dr. Adil al-Adawi, another ministry spokesman, said about 200 of those injuries came on Monday.Egypt's Interior Ministry said 102 officers and conscripts have been injured, with wounds ranging from gunshots to burns from Molotov cocktails.