2 of 3 arrested US students leave Egypt

CAIRO (AP) -November 26, 2011

The three Americans were arrested on the roof of a university building near Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square last Sunday. Officials accused them of throwing firebombs at security forces fighting with protesters.

Luke Gates, 21, left Cairo Saturday morning on a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, an airport official said in Cairo. Gregory Porter, 19, also left the country, his attorney said.

All three were expected to have departed on separate flights by later Saturday morning, the airport official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

An Egyptian court ordered the release of Gates, Porter and 19-year-old Derrik Sweeney on Thursday. All were studying at the American University in Cairo.

Attorney Theodore Simon, who represents Porter, a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said police escorted the three students to the Cairo airport Friday. Simon later said his client was on a flight.

"I am pleased and thankful to report that Gregory Porter is in the air. He has departed Egyptian airspace and is on his way home," Simon said, though he declined to say when Porter was expected back in the U.S.

Simon said he and Porter's mother both spoke by phone with the student, who is from the Philadelphia suburb of Glenside.

"He clearly conveyed to me ... that he was OK," Simon told the AP.

Gates is a student at Indiana University. It wasn't clear when he was expected back in the U.S.

Joy Sweeney told the AP her son, a 19-year-old Georgetown University student from Jefferson City, Missouri, would fly from Frankfurt to Washington, then on to St. Louis. She said family will meet him when he arrives late Saturday.

"I am ecstatic," Sweeney said Friday. "I can't wait for him to get home tomorrow night. I can't believe he's actually going to get on a plane. It is so wonderful."

Sweeney said she had talked with her son Friday afternoon and "he seemed jubilant."

"He thought he was going to be able to go back to his dorm room and get his stuff," she said. "We said, `No, no, don't get your stuff, we just want you here."'

She said American University will ship his belongings home.

Sweeney had earlier said she did not prepare a Thanksgiving celebration this week because the idea seemed "absolutely irrelevant" while her son still was being held.

"I'm getting ready to head out and buy turkey and stuffing and all the good fixings so that we can make a good Thanksgiving dinner," she said Friday.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.