The Trump administration negotiated the release of a US citizen who was held in an Egyptian prison for three years.
Aya Hijazi, who is of Egyptian-American heritage, was released and brought back to her family in Washington, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Hijazi was in Egypt running a nongovernmental organization that was seen as an anti-Egyptian scheme by Egyptian security officials, according to The Post. Her Egyptian husband and four coworkers were arrested as well.
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,” while 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 stabilize. 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,” said her brother, Basel Hijazi. “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.”