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Aya Hijazi returns to US from Egyptian prison

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Aya Hijazi returns to US from Egyptian prison

  • 21 April 2017
  • From the section US & Canada
Aya Hijazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein at a courthouse in Cairo, on 23 March 2017Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Aya Hijazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein at a courthouse in Cairo last month

Donald Trump's administration has secured the freedom of an Egyptian-US charity worker who was detained for nearly three years in Cairo.

Aya Hijazi, 30, was flown back to the US on Thursday night with her family on a US government jet.

Ms Hijazi, whose charity cared for street children, faced child abuse charges branded false by rights groups.

Her release was reportedly agreed before Mr Trump met Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi this month.

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Media captionTrump says Egypt's Sisi 'very close to me'

Ms Hijazi, a US citizen with dual nationality, and her Egyptian husband, Mohamed Hassanein, set up the Belady Foundation in 2013 to aid street children.

The couple were arrested a year later along with four other humanitarian workers, whose released has also been secured.

They were acquitted last Sunday of child abuse and trafficking charges that were dismissed as bogus by US officials.

Ms Hijazi, who was born in Egypt and grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, is due to visit the White House on Friday to meet President Trump.

She will also be greeted by his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reports the Washington Post, which broke the story.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Hijazi, who was born in Egypt and grew up in Falls Church, Virginia

Chaperoned by top American officials, Ms Hijazi and Mr Hassanein were reportedly flown back on a military aircraft to Joint Base Andrews, near Washington DC, at 22:00 on Thursday.

Dina Powell, the president's Egyptian-American deputy national security adviser, is said to have accompanied the couple on the flight home.

The administration of former President Barack Obama had lobbied without success for Ms Hijazi's release, frustrating her family.

The case was seen by human rights groups as typical of authoritarian rule in Egypt under President Sisi, who assumed power in 2013.

Mr Trump was accused by critics of embracing a dictator when he rolled out the red carpet for President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi at the White House earlier this month.

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.

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