An Egyptian-American woman was freed from prison after three years this week, ending a detention that had long been criticized by human rights groups. Aya Hijazi, 30, and her husband were arrested in 2014 when the charity they worked for, which helps street children in Egypt, was raided by authorities, according to CNN. Hijazi was hit with child abuse and human trafficking charges, which human rights groups lambasted as bogus. She was held in prison for 33 months without a trial — nine months longer than the law in Egypt allows for a person to be held without being sent to trial. The arrest came amid Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cracking down on those who disagree with his policies. On Sunday, Hijazi finally had her day in court and was acquitted for her charges.
On Friday, Hijazi, a dual citizen, returned to the U.S. and was greeted at the White House by President Donald Trump. The stage was set for Hijazi’s release last month when al-Sisi paid a visit to the White House and the president reportedly broached the topic of her release. According to White House press secretary Sean Spice, the Trump administration quietly negotiated her release with the al-Sisi administration.
The two met in in front of the cameras on Friday in the Oval Office and chatted, but Trump declined to take questions, saying only, “We are very happy to have Aya Hijazi back home, and it’s a great honor to have her in the Oval Office with her brother and thank you very much,” as Hijazi sat next to him smiling. Watch a clip of the meeting below.
Pres. Trump meets with freed Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi at the White House: “We are very happy to have Aya back home." pic.twitter.com/B96Z77NJ6h
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 21, 2017