U.S. student detained in Egypt arrives in Philadelphia

Three American students were attending American University in Cairo on a semester-long, study-abroad program.

Story highlights

  • "I'm so thankful to be back," says Gregory Porter
  • He thanks his parents and embassy officials
  • Porter and two other U.S. students are accused of throwing Molotov cocktails during the Egyptian protests
  • Derrik Sweeney and Luke Gates are also expected to return home
An American college student arrested during Egypt's recent protests arrived stateside on Saturday.
"I just want to say that I'm so thankful to be back in Philadelphia. I'd like to thank my parents, my mom and my dad, for their support," a smiling Gregory Porter told reporters.
He also thanked his lawyers, embassy officials and the administration at the American University in Cairo for their roles in helping to secure his release.
Porter was detained in Cairo this week along with two other U.S. college students -- Derrik Sweeney and Luke Gates.
The students were scheduled to board separate commercial flights Saturday to return home, according to Sweeney's mother, Joy Sweeney.
The three were released from police custody Friday, an attorney for one of the men said. They were arrested after being accused of throwing Molotov cocktails in recent clashes that have rattled the country.
Sweeney is scheduled to arrive home in Missouri on Saturday night, his father said. The family will hold a belated Thanksgiving meal.
Joy Sweeney said her son told her Wednesday in a telephone call that "they had done nothing wrong." All had been attending American University in Cairo on a semester-long, study-abroad program.
Sweeney, 19, is a Georgetown University student from Jefferson City, Missouri; Porter, 19, is from Glenside, Pennsylvania, and attends Drexel University in Philadelphia; and Gates, 21, of Bloomington, Indiana, attends Indiana University.
Adel Saeed, the general prosecutor's spokesman, said Wednesday that a bag filled with empty bottles, a bottle of gasoline, a towel and a camera had been found with the three American students.
"They denied the bag belonged to them and said it belonged to two of their friends," Saeed said.
Kevin Sweeney, Derrik Sweeney's father, said Friday that his son had been "falsely accused."
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"He was there observing something that was definitely a phenomenon of the culture," he said. The father noted that Derrik -- who is majoring in both Arabic and psychology -- had gone to Egypt "not just to learn the language, he wanted to learn the culture."
Now, he said, his son does not plan to return to Egypt.
"This semester is over for him, whether he's able to finish it remotely or writes it off," he said. "He really does not want to be in Egypt right now."
Kevin Sweeney declined to discuss any possible injuries his son suffered while in police custody. He was not aware of the conditions of the other two men.
Drexel President John Fry released a statement Saturday, expressing relief at Porter's safe return and thanking all those involved.
Three Drexel students remain in Egypt and all of them want to stay as long as U.S. officials do not recommend they leave, Fry said.