Missouri Colege Student Back In Jefferson City, Describes Beatings in Egypt
November 28, 2011

From AP:

Forced to lie still for hours in the dark, the American students held during protests in Egypt were told they would be shot if they moved or made any noise, one of them said Sunday on his first full day home.

“It was the most frightening experience of my life, I believe,” Derrik Sweeney said.

Speaking to The Associated Press by Skype from Jefferson City, Mo., Sweeney said the evening of Nov. 20 started peacefully in Cairo, with Tahrir Square “abuzz with ideas of democracy and freedom.”

The three wandered the streets and wound up in a large group of protesters outside the Interior Ministory, Sweeney said. The demonstrations escalated, with the protesters yelling and perhaps throwing stones, he said.

“Eventually the police shot back something, I’m not exactly sure what,” he said. “We didn’t wait to see. But as soon as we saw some sort of firing coming from the gun and heard it, the whole crowd stampeded out and we sprinted away.”

He said they fled to an area that seemed calmer and were approached by four or five Egyptians in plain clothes.

The Egyptians offered to lead them to safety but instead took them into custody, Sweeney said.

They were threatened to be force-fed gasoline, beaten and forced to lie in a near-fetal position in the dark for six hours with their hands in cuffs behind their backs, Sweeney said. He said they were told: “If you move or make any noise, we will shoot you.”

“They were hitting us in the face and in the back of the neck,” he said. “Not to the point of bleeding or I can’t say I have any lasting major scars at this point, but they were hitting us.”

Sweeney is 19 and studies at Georgetown University. He was arrested along with Luke Gates, 21, who attends Indiana University and is from Bloomington, Ind., and Gregory Porter, 19, who studies at Drexel University and is from Glenside, Pa.

The students flew home Saturday after an Egyptian court ordered their release two days earlier. The three were studying abroad at American University in Cairo, which is near Tahrir Square.

Missouri Student in Cairo and Two Others May Be Getting Out of Egypt in the Nick of Time
November 25, 2011

Three American college students, including Derrik Sweeney of Jefferson City, Missouri are preparing to leave Cairo, Egypt as the city, and perhaps the entire nation hurdles toward major upheaval.

According to the British newspaper, The Guardian, the three Americans may be leaving in the nick of time.

“ Egyptians are again staging a huge demonstration in Tahrir Square against the military rulers,” reads one Guardian Summary of Friday events.

“The presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei was mobbed by supporters as he arrived to take part in Friday prayers in the square. Demonstrations have also been reported in Alexandria and Tanta. The military rulers continue to show no signs of being prepared to cede power or to postpone the elections due to begin on Monday.”

The Guardian also reports, “The three young men – Luke Gates, Gregory Porter, and Derrik Sweeney – had been picked up by the authorities during clashes near the Interior Ministry, Egyptian police had said.

“The trio had also been shown on local television after their arrests, prompting fears they would be accused of being outside agitators in the violence gripping the Egyptian capital.

However, Joy Sweeney, the mother of Derrik, confirmed news reports that the three were set to be released shortly and charges against them would be dropped. “All three of them have been released. The attorney-general is not going to appeal,” she told CNN on Thursday.

Sweeney said the news had been confirmed by the US consul general in Egypt, Roberto Powers. The diplomat had told her that the trio of students were now being taken to a local doctor for a medical examination and from there would go to a police station to have their paperwork processed ahead of being set free and returned to their student dorms.

Sweeney expressed her delight that the situation – which could have developed into a thorny diplomatic problem between Egypt and the US – had been resolved. “It is absolutely incredible. We are just so blessed and grateful right now,” she said. Sweeney expected that her son Derrik, at least, would now be leaving the strife-torn country as Powers had warned that the students pictures had been displayed all over local news media and it might not be safe to stay. “It wouldn’t be really be safe or prudent for him to be in the country,” Sweeney said according to the Guardian report..

Mrs. Sweeney says she hopes her son will return home perhaps as early as next Monday

Thursday, after the news of the pending release, Mid-Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemyer issued a statement.

“I am extremely thankful that Derrik Sweeney is being released by Egyptian authorities along with the two other American students. I am relieved for Derrik’s family, who received a special Thanksgiving Day gift today. I also would like to thank the State Department for their hard work on behalf of Derrik and the other two students.”

Sweeney briefly worked as a Washington intern in Luetkemeyer’s office. His Jefferson City home is in the Congressman’s district.

Breaking! Mother of Jeff City Student held in Eygpt Says Students to be Released
November 24, 2011

 

(American College Students Greg Porter, Luke Gates and Derrik Sweeney of Jefferson City,, Mo. Sweeney is on the right of this  picture taken from a video released by Egyptian state television)

(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.”

Mother of Student Held in Egypt Fears Son’s Release is Not Imminent
November 24, 2011

(AP) — A Missouri woman whose son was arrested during demonstrations in Egypt says she’s losing hope for a quick resolution.

Nineteen-year-old Derrik Sweeney, of Jefferson City, was arrested Monday in Cairo along with two fellow Americans studying in Egypt. Authorities allege they were throwing firebombs at security forces.

Sweeney’s mother, Joy Sweeney, said Wednesday a US. Embassy official told the family that any decision on charging or releasing her son was unlikely before Saturday.

The mother also says the family was told the students were questioned late into Wednesday night and that significant progress was unlikely Thursday. She says the embassy official said Friday is a holiday in Egypt and that work is not done on Sunday. There’s an election Monday, so it could be Tuesday before a decision is made.

American Student Held in Egypt Briefly Interned With Luetkemeyer
November 23, 2011

(American College Students Luke Gates (left) and Derrik Sweeney (right) from Egyptian State TV video) Sweey

An American student, Derrik Sweeney,  now being held by Egyptian police was briefly an intern for Mid-Missouri Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, according to the Congressman’s News Secretary.

“Derrik came highly recommended and worked extremely hard during his time in our Washington, D.C. office. We are hopeful that the current situation is resolved as quickly as possible,” said Paul Sloca Tuesday night.

Sweeney and two other  American college students are accused by Egyptian authorities of throwing molotov cocktails, also called firebombs, at police during rioting in Cairo Monday night. Cairo police said they were taken into custody on the rooftop of one of the buildings where police think the firebombs were coming from.

Sweeney is from Jefferson City, Missouri.  He now attends Georgetown University in Washington. He and the other two American college students,  Luke Gates of Bloomington, indian and Greg Porter, of Glenside Pennsylvania, were attending American University in Cairo this semester.

 “Blaine is most concerned that Derrik is safe and being treated fairly. We remain in contact with State Department officials and continue to monitor the situation,” said Sloca.

The Egyptian capital has erupted into more rioting this week. Some  protesters are claiming the military government that took over after this spring’s revolt, are not moving fast enough to set up elections for a new government.