Trump welcomes freed US-Egypt prisoner Aya Hijazi to White House

Trump welcomes freed US-Egypt prisoner Aya Hijazi to White House

Media captionThree things we’ve learnt on Trump diplomacy

President Donald Trump has welcomed an Egyptian-US charity worker, whom he helped release after nearly three years detained in Cairo, to the White House.

The president said he was “very happy” that Aya Hijazi, 30, was flown back to the US on Thursday night.

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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Reuters

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Aya Hijazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein at a courthouse in Cairo last month

“We are very happy to have Aya back home,” Mr Trump said on Friday at the White House. “It’s a great honour to have her in the Oval Office with her brother.”

Mr Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also met Ms Hijazi.

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.

Media captionTrump says Egypt’s Sisi ‘very close to me’

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

Ms Hijazi was born in Egypt and grew up in Falls Church, Virginia.

Chaperoned by top American officials, Ms Hijazi and Mr Hassanein touched down on a military aircraft at Joint Base Andrews, near Washington DC.

Dina Powell, the president’s Egyptian-American deputy national security adviser, accompanied the couple on the flight home.

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Reuters

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“Good job,” said Mr Trump

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 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.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Friday that Mr Trump had addressed the case “directly” with Mr Sisi during his visit.

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Reuters

Image caption

Ms Hijazi grew up in Falls Church, Virginia

Trump welcomes freed US-Egypt prisoner Aya Hijazi to White House

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