Newly released Egyptian-American charity worker visits Trump
- Author: Joey Payne Apr 22, 2017,
Apr 22, 2017, 1:42
"We're very grateful that President Trump personally engaged with the issue", Aya's brother Basel Hijazi said in a telephone interview while onboard the plane.
But US media report the cosy bilateral capped a flurry of behind-the-scenes diplomacy by Trump administration officials to secure Ms Hijazi's release. Hijazi was released from jail on Tuesday, having been held for almost three years.
United States officials had raised Hijazi's case with Egypt soon after Trump took office on Jan 20, aides said.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday said Trump and his team had "worked behind the scenes" to bring her home.
"We are very happy to have Aya back home", Trump said while seated alongside Hijazi at the White House. -Egyptian citizen, is acquitted by an Egyptian court after almost three years of detention over accusations related to running a foundation dedicated to helping street children, Cairo, Sunday, April 16, 2017. He tells NPR that Sissi's visit came during a short window of time before the final verdict in Hijazi's case. She did finally get a trial and was acquitted, but to hold her for three years seems inexcusable considering the nature of the case and its ultimate outcome.
Hijazi, a dual American Egyptian citizen who founded a non-governmental organization to help Egyptian street children, was imprisoned in 2014 on what US officials and human rights advocates said were unsubstantiated charges of human trafficking. Their detention well exceeded the Egyptian legal limit of two years for pretrial and provisional detention, and human rights groups maintained they had not been allowed access to their lawyers.
Human rights groups said the charges were unfounded, and that the arrests were part of a crackdown on nongovernmental organizations.
"The global human rights group Human Rights Watch says witnesses for the prosecution disappeared or recanted, and [Hijazi] was never even allowed to meet with her lawyers privately", NPR's Jane Arraf reported earlier this week.
The court dropped all charges and the administration sent a government aircraft to ferry the couple back to America. "These last 72 hours have been understandingly overwhelming but they're in good spirits ..."
Hijazi, who grew up in Falls Church, Va., and graduated from George Mason University, was working in Cairo with the Belady Foundation, which she and her husband established as a haven and rehabilitation center for street children in Cairo.
"Just talking with them tonight, their spark is still there to make the world a better place", McMullen said.