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Jefferson City student in Egypt still in custody, awaiting processing

Friday, November 25, 2011 | 10:13 a.m. CST; updated 10:10 p.m. CST, Saturday, November 26, 2011

PHILADELPHIA — Three American students arrested during a protest in Cairo and ordered released by an Egyptian court are in the midst of being processed by authorities there, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said Friday.

Katharina Gollner-Sweet, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, told The Associated Press that Derrik Sweeney, Luke Gates and Gregory Porter are being processed for their eventual release one day after a court ordered them released from police custody, according to information from Egyptian officials.

"According to the latest information that the Egyptians gave out they were ordered released in the court but they are in an administrative out-processing stage," Gollner-Sweet said.

"We are continuing to provide normal consular situations. I don't know exactly where they are."

The three U.S. college students, who attend the American University in Cairo, were arrested on the roof of a university building near Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square on Sunday. Officials accused them of throwing firebombs at security forces fighting with protesters.

A court in Egypt ordered the release of the students, a lawyer in Philadelphia confirmed Thursday.

Attorney Theodore Simon, who represents Porter, a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said he spoke by phone with Porter, describing the student's demeanor as "calm and measured, demonstrating a maturity well beyond his 19 years."

"He was extremely thankful and appreciative for our efforts and the unconditional support of his mother and father," Simon said.

Porter is from Glenside, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia.

Sweeney's mother, Joy Sweeney, said she is "absolutely elated" at the news of her 19-year-old son's release.

The 21-year-old Gates is a student at Indiana University.

His parents released a statement Thursday through the school, saying they were "extremely happy" to hear that their son would soon be released.

"This has been a difficult situation, and while we are disappointed that he will be held a few days longer to complete administrative procedures related to his release, we're confident he will be home soon," Bill and Sharon Gates wrote.

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