The Trump administration negotiated the release of a US citizen who was held in an Egyptian prison for three years.
Aya Hijazi, 30, and of Egyptian-American decent, was brought back to her family in Washington, along with her husband and four other humanitarian workers, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Hijazi was in Egypt running a nongovernmental organisation that was seen as anti-Egyptian scheme by Egyptian security officials, according to The Post.
Hijazi and her coworkers were imprisoned on May 1, 2014 on child abuse and trafficking charges — accusations that were baseless, according to US officials and human-rights workers — due to the lack of evidence. In prison, Hijazi her companions were allegedly subjected to “coercive interrogation techniques,” as their trial dates were either canceled or continuously postponed.
President Barack Obama attempted to negotiate their release with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi; however, the chilled relationship between the two countries complicated the talks.
It wasn’t until President Donald Trump invited Sissi to the White House earlier this month — an act that drew ire from critics of Sissi’s authoritarian government — that relations with Egypt appeared to stabilise. During the meeting, Trump called Sissi’s leadership as “fantastic” and said that Egypt had “strong backing” from the US government, The Post reported.
Hijazi is scheduled to meet Trump at the White House on Friday.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions the past couple of days,” Basel Hijazi, her brother said, in an interview. “We’re crying with relief to have them out.”
“We’re very grateful that President Trump personally engaged with the issue. Working closely with the Trump administration was very important for my family at this critical time. It let us be reunited as a family. We’re so grateful.”
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