Australian Hazem Hamouda Breaks His Silence After Release From Egyptian Prison
After spending more than 400 days in one of Egypt's most notorious prisons without charge, Brisbane man Hazem Hamouda has broken his silence.
Speaking to The Project after reuniting with his family in Australia, Hamouda said he is "trying to pick up the pieces" of his life.
"I want to be at peace and slowly heal these exposed wounds that I have ... to try to pick up the pieces that dropped about 15 months ago," he said, in an interview airing on Wednesday night.
Hamouda is a dual national who was born and raised in Egypt, but has lived in Australia for 30 years.
He was arrested in January 2018 as he arrived in Egypt on a family holiday, accused of having links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood -- which is listed as a terrorist organisation in Egypt.
"They said leave your bags, let's go for a chat. I asked about what? They said, 'it will just take five minutes'," Hamouda said.
From that moment forward it was just ... into a world I’ve never seen before.
Hamouda described the prison experience as "unpleasant".
"It’s a very tough environment, it puts you under huge stress, emotionally, physically, spiritually ... all aspects," he said.
But the father-of-six maintains his innocence. Despite his year-long prison ordeal, he was never charged -- and both Hamouda and his family say the Australian government should have done more to intervene.
"They came every month -- give or take -- and would come and say, 'how are you going? how is your health?' I would say, 'what are you doing to help me and my family?' Hamouda said.
"There was definitely little that was provided in reference to secure my release."
Hamouda's family started a petition and had their own lawyers involved in the case, claiming it took a year of prison time for the government to take it seriously.
Daughter Lamisse said it felt like a "box ticking exercise" rather than a "genuine effort" to advocate for her father.
Hamouda's legal team secured his release in mid March, but Egyptian authorities prevented his departure from Egypt.
On April 3, he was allowed to leave and was accompanied through Cairo's airport by the Australian ambassador to Egypt.
Now, Hamouda is reunited with his family in Brisbane, including his granddaughter who was born while he was in prison.
"I missed him a lot and it was a really difficult year," wife Evelyn Boyer told The Project.
"Watching my kids go through that and it was a relief to see our children happy again."
Watch the full interview tonight at 6:30pm on The Project on Network 10.