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Egypt Acquits US-Egyptian Citizen of Child Abuse

Aya Hijazi was held in legal limbo for 3 years over her aid group for street children
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 16, 2017 7:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – An Egyptian court has acquitted Aya Hijazi, a dual US-Egyptian citizen, after nearly three years of detention over accusations related to running a foundation dedicated to helping street children, reports the AP. Egyptian authorities arrested the 30-year-old Hijazi, her husband Mohamed Hassanein, and six others in May 2014 on charges of abusing children in her care and engaging in human trafficking, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, and torture. Local human rights groups have said the charges are fabricated and part of a crackdown by Egypt's government on civil society. Senior US officials say they pressed Hijazi's case with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi during his visit to the US last month, reports the New York Times. But, "to be honest, we are just happy that she is out," says Hijazi's brother. "Everything that is going on internationally is irrelevant."

The trial has been delayed multiple times on what human rights groups say are absurd pretexts, like the inability to turn on a computer at a court hearing. Hillary Clinton, along with several congressmen and international rights groups, had called for Hijazi's release. "We promised them that we could come back," Hassanein told the Times after the verdict, speaking of the children their organization was dedicated to helping. "Children are wealth, and they were strong while we have been in prison. We want to go back to the streets." (Read more Egypt stories.)

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