After three-years of waiting in pre-trial detention, Aya Hijazi, her husband Mohammed Hassanein and her six co-defendants have been acquitted on child abuse charges in an Cairo court on Sunday.
The dual U.S.-Egyptian citizen had been arrested in May 2014 along with her husband and six others on charges relating to their work at the Belady Foundation, a charity aiding Cairo street children founded by Hijazi and Hassanein.
The group was being held on several charges, including sexual exploitation of children, using children for protests and human trafficking, but prosecutors provided no evidence to support the allegations, while human rights groups and U.S. officials decried the charges as bogus.
“This wonderful news was a long time coming,”said Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. He was one of several members of Congress who have implored Egypt to release Hijazi. When she was meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi last September, Hillary Clinton also demanded Hijazi be released.
According to a report from Fox News, “President Donald Trump did not publicly mention the case when he welcomed el-Sissi to the White House earlier this month, but a senior White House official had said ahead of the meeting that the case would be addressed.”
An attorney who handles human rights cases before international tribunals, Wake McMullen said administration officials had made Hijazi’s case a priority, and he believes that international pressure helped call attention her plight.
“There was no reason the case should have been brought in the first place,” said McMullen.
Hijazi’s mother Naglaa Hosny told reporters, “We were expecting the worst and hoping for the best.”
Born in Egypt, Hijazi, 30, grew up in Falls Church, Va and received a degree in conflict resolution from George Mason University in 2009 before returning to Egypt and establishing the Belady Foundation in 2013 with her husband. The couple provided shelter and aid for Egyptian street children. A few months later, the foundation’s office was raided by authorities and those who worked there were arrested after a man falsely accused the organization of taking his son.
Hijazi’s Egyptian lawyer, Taher Abol Nasr, said Hijazi is likely to remain in detention for another two to three days while her acquittal is being processed, but he expects all eight to be released by the end of the week.
H/T: Fox News
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