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Georgetown student in Egypt: 'Not sure I was going to live'

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He also said he was then able to speak with a U.S. consular official, his mother and obtain legal counsel. He also said he denied the accusations during what he called proper questioning by Egyptian authorities. The three were studying at American University in Cairo.

(Photo: Associated Press)

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"I was not sure I was going to live," college student Derrik Sweeney, 19, said.

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A court ordered the students' release Thursday and they took separate connecting flights out of Cairo via Germany on Saturday, a day of fresh clashes between Egyptian security forces and protesters. The demonstrators are demanding Egypt's military step down ahead of parliamentary elections due to start Monday.

Porter and Gates were first to arrive back in their home states late Saturday, greeted by family members in emotional airport reunions.

Neither Gates nor Porter recounted any details of the past week in Egypt, where protests erupted Nov. 19 and have continued for days amid sporadic scenes of police firing tear gas and using armored vehicles to chase rock-throwing protesters. Authorities said more than 41 people have died in the protests that were continuing Sunday.

"I'm not going to take this as a negative experience. It's still a great country," said Gates, his parents wrapping their arms around him, shortly after getting off a flight in Indianapolis.

In another scene played out at Philadelphia International Airport, Porter was met by his parents and other relatives earlier Saturday evening after he landed.

Porter took no questions, saying 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.

Joy Sweeney said waiting for her son had been grueling.

"He still hasn't processed what a big deal this is," she told the AP before his arrival in St. Louis , about 130 miles east of their home in Jefferson City, Mo.

She said she was trying not to dwell on the events and was just ecstatic that her son, a student at Georgetown University in Washington, was coming home before the close of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

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