Three American Students Released in Cairo and Heading Home

Their friend says they seemed to be "physically unharmed."

ByLAMA HASAN and OLIVIA KATRANDJIAN
November 26, 2011, 8:19 AM

CAIRO Nov. 26, 2011 — -- The last of three American students arrested during pro-democracy rioting in Egypt was released from jail all all three are now heading home.

As soon as Derrik Sweeney, Luke Gates and Gregory Porter were released, they headed straight for the airport, not even stopping in their dorm rooms to pack their belongings.

Derrik's mother, Joy Sweeney, was thrilled that her son was out of Egypt and on his way home. She said she's getting ready to cook a Thanksgiving feast for him.

"I can't stop giggling, laughing almost wanting to cry at the same time…We're all so very very grateful. We want to get him home and hold him," said Sweeney.

Porter's lawyer says he's done fine.

"He's clearly demonstrating maturity well beyond his 19 years. I look forward to seeing him and I certainly know his family looks forward to giving him one gigantic hug," said attorney Theodore Simon, who also served as counsel for the now-acquitted Amanda Knox.

From photographs on Luke Gate's Facebook profile, his stay in Cairo seemed to be a good experience.

But on his Twitter, which has now been disabled, Gates said just days before being detained, "Honestly, I hope I die here" and "I don't know what to do now," according to ABC News affiliate KMIZ.

The three students were studying at the American University in Cairo for a semester, and were arrested after being accused of throwing Molotov cocktails from a roof top at security forces during the anti-government protests in Tahrir Square. The students deny the charges.

Egyptian TV released images of the three students and video showing Sweeney among a group of protesters, evidence the police says provers they were taking part in the demonstrations.

One of their friends in Cairo told ABC News that they were at the protests in solidarity with the Egyptian people.

''I know they didn't take part in the Molotov cocktails and all of us know for a fact that those Molotov cocktails did not belong to them," said Drew Harper.

''All of the entrances to the buildings were blocked, so there's no way they could have got on to the roof,'' said Harper.

Harper called the television footage of the boys on Egyptian TV a "fabrication" and said they were "at the right place at the wrong time."

"They were there to partake in [the protests] but not to instigate anything because they're smart enough and informed enough to know that this is not their revolution," said Harper.

A friend of Harper's who spoke with the students said they are in good spirits, "physically unharmed as far as we can tell" and "just anxious to back home with their friends."

The U.S. embassy in Cairo has been in close contact with the three students throughout their detention and told ABC News today that they were glad the students will be reunited with their families.

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