Published: Sat, April 22, 2017
USA | By Angel Wallace

Egyptian-American release came after 'no deal,' Trump says

Egyptian-American release came after 'no deal,' Trump says

"It's a great honor to have her in the Oval Office with her brother", said Trump.

Aya Hijazi, a USA citizen, and her Egyptian husband Mohamed Hassanein were freed and flown back to the United States this morning. Their detention well exceeded the Egyptian legal limit of two years for pretrial and provisional detention, and human rights groups maintained they had not been allowed access to their lawyers.

Trump has shown public support for Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and he and several officials met with al-Sisi earlier this month.

Aya Hijazi and her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, an Egyptian, were acquitted earlier this week of child abuse charges stemming from an aid organization they established to help street children in Egypt.

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. Meanwhile, Trump also sent his military aide, Air Force Maj.

A White House official said there was no quid pro quo offered for the releases, but they did receive assurance that the aid workers would not be called back to Egypt if they were found guilty at a later date.

He added: "We're very grateful that President Trump personally engaged with the issue". It let us be reunited as a family.

Pressed on how Trump managed to gain her release when President Barack Obama had not, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he would leave it to others "to look at the different strategies to see why the President was successful" and Obama was not.

"I left Cairo very confident in the avenues we have to advance our military-to-military relationship, which has been a bedrock and has stood solid all these years", Mattis said.

According to the Washington Post, Hijazi became the global face of Cairo's alleged brutal crackdown on civil society, particularly on human rights group that received foreign funding. Obama froze aid to Egypt for two years after Sisi, then a general, overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013.

A military aide to President Donald Trump escorted Hijazi and her family back to Washington on a military plane, according to the administration official.

Trump did not mention the case publicly when he met with Sisi. After the coup, Obama withheld aid from Egypt - for decades, the second- largest recipient of USA military assistance, after Israel, at more than $1 billion a year.

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