Washington, April 21 (IANS) An Egyptian-American charity worker who was imprisoned in Cairo for three years has returned home to the US after President Donald Trump’s administration “quietly” negotiated her release, the media reported on Friday.
Trump and his aides worked for several weeks with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to secure the freedom of Aya Hijazi, 30, a US citizen, as well as her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, who is Egyptian, and four other humanitarian workers, The Washington Post reported.
Trump dispatched a US government aircraft to Cairo to bring Hijazi and her family to Washington. They arrived late on Thursday
Hijazi, who grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, and graduated from George Mason University, was working in Cairo with the Belady Foundation, which she and her husband established as a rehabilitation centre for street children in Cairo.
The couple and their co-workers had been incarcerated since May 1, 2014, on child abuse and trafficking charges that were widely dismissed by human rights workers and US officials as false.
Virtually no evidence was ever presented against them, and for nearly three years they were held as hearings were inexplicably postponed and trial dates cancelled, reports The Washington Post.
Human rights groups alleged that they were abused in detention.
Finally on Sunday, a court in Cairo dropped all charges against Hijazi and the others.
Meanwhile, a senior administration official said that no quid pro quo had been offered for Hijazi’s release but that there had been “assurance from the highest levels (of Sisi’s government) that whatever the verdict was, Egypt would use presidential authority to send her home”.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell met Sisi this week in Cairo to arrange the prisoners’ release.
As Mattis travelled on to Israel, Powell and military aide Air Force Major Wes Spurlock accompanied Hijazi, Hassanein and their family.
Hijazi and her brother, Basel, were set to visit the White House to meet Trump, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Friday, the daily added.