3 American students detained in Egypt back in US

/ Source: The Associated Press

All three American students arrested during protests in Cairo are back in the U.S., three days after an Egyptian court ordered their release.

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

Gregory Porter, 19, was greeted by his parents and other relatives Saturday evening when he landed at Philadelphia International Airport. Porter took no questions, but said he was thankful for the help he and the other American students received from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, administrators at the university they were attending, and attorneys in Egypt and the U.S.

"I'm just so thankful to be back, to be in Philadelphia right now," said Porter, who is from nearby Glenside, Pa., and attends Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Luke Gates, 21, arrived in the U.S. late Saturday and was expected back home in Indiana soon, Indiana University spokesman Mark Land said. Gates attends the university, and his parents have declined to talk with the media. Land said he spoke with Gates' father.

"He said he was doing very well and he was very excited to be on his way home," Land said. He added that Gates' parents are "really hopeful they can spend a little time with him without having to answer a lot of questions" in the media spotlight.

The mother of the third student, 19-year-old Derrik Sweeney, says she spoke with her son when he landed in Washington late Saturday before he boarded a flight to St. Louis.

All three left the Egyptian capital Saturday morning on separate connecting flights to Frankfurt, Germany, an airport official in Cairo said. The three were studying at the American University in Cairo.

In earlier developments, attorney Theodore Simon, who represents Porter, 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 the American University in Cairo 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.