I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 36 and 59 together.
I and my Government colleagues are extremely disappointed at the recent news of a further delay in the trial of this citizen. This latest delay is a particular source of concern and frustration for the citizen and his family and we fully share their sense of frustration. It is our understanding that at the latest hearing in this case on 29 June, the court ordered a review of video evidence by a technical committee, with the court due to reconvene in early October.
My own concerns and that of the Government about this delay have been conveyed directly to the Egyptian Government. I met with the ambassador of Egypt last Thursday and asked that she convey to her authorities in Cairo my disappointment and frustration at this further postponement of the trial. My officials are seeking more detail about these latest developments and their potential impact on this trial.
I met this citizen's father and sister last week, in advance of the hearing, to reaffirm our continued commitment to securing his release. A further meeting between the family and my officials took place on Friday where the latest developments were reviewed and options for future action, including a new application under Presidential Decree 140, were considered. The Government will continue to bring all of its influence to bear on this citizen’s behalf through all appropriate channels. The Taoiseach and I stand ready to have further contacts with our Egyptian counterparts.
Regardless of our difficulties with the trial now under way, the reality is the Irish government cannot interfere with a trial in a foreign country. What we can do, and what we are working very hard to do, is to provide all consular care possible to this citizen while he is in prison and to work towards his release at the earliest possible time.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
All actions taken in this case are considered in the context of the Government’s clear strategy, which is focused on two core objectives, first, to see this citizen released by the Egyptian authorities so that he can return to his family and his studies in Ireland as soon as possible, and, second, to provide every possible consular support for his welfare while he remains in detention.
Our ambassador to Egypt, Mr. Damien Cole, was once again present in the court for the latest hearing. This citizen’s welfare is an important priority for our embassy in Cairo, as it is at home in Ireland. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is continuing to provide consular assistance to this citizen through regular visits to him in the prison where he is being held. The ambassador visited him again on Sunday last, 3 July.
I am aware of media references to a letter concerning allegations about the Egyptian prison system. On my instruction, the contents of this letter were discussed with the family and legal representative of this citizen as soon as the matter became known to me. I also instructed that the matter be brought to the attention of our ambassador in Cairo as he is best placed to assess the level of concern to attach to its contents. The ambassador visits this citizen regularly, and did so on 29 May and again on 3 July. As would be the case for any Irish citizen imprisoned abroad, any concern related to ill-treatment is treated with the utmost seriousness and would be raised urgently with the appropriate authorities. This point has been consistently reconfirmed to this citizen and his family.
In the coming days, I expect the Government will have further high level contacts with the Egyptian Government aimed at achieving a resolution of this case.