Tags: aya hijazi | acquitted | egypt | trafficking

Aya Hijazi Acquitted: American Was Held in Egypt for 3 Years

Image: Aya Hijazi Acquitted: American Was Held in Egypt for 3 Years

Aya Hijazi, center, a dual U.S.-Egyptian citizen, is acquitted by an Egyptian court after nearly three years of detention over accusations related to running a foundation dedicated to helping street children, Cairo, Sunday, April 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Mohamed el Raai)

By    |   Monday, 17 Apr 2017 05:39 PM

Aya Hijazi, an American-Egyptian dual citizen, was acquitted of child sex trafficking charges Sunday after being held for nearly three years.

Hijazi, her husband Mohammed Hassanein, and six other co-defendants had faced charges because of the couple's work running the Belady Foundation, a charity helping Cairo street children, The Guardian reported. If convicted, the eight co-defendants would have served life in prison.

Hijazi was raised in Virginia and attended George Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in Fairfax before she moved to Cairo to help children there, UPI reported. She was arrested in May 2014 and accused of human trafficking and sexual abuse of children in her care.

Human rights groups in Egypt said the charges were made up as part of a crackdown on political dissent. Human Rights Watch said the defendants were prevented from meeting privately with their lawyers and that proceedings had been delayed repeatedly. Release on bail was also rejected without explanation, and they were held beyond the two-year limit for pretrial detention, UPI reported.

The couple wants to go back to helping street children, Hassanein told The New York Times, but was unsure whether they will be allowed to do so by the Egyptian government. The current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has cracked down on charities that receive foreign funding as a way of trying to control dissent and independent voices, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies member Mohamed Zaree told the Times.

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Aya Hijazi, an American-Egyptian dual citizen, was acquitted of child sex trafficking charges Sunday after being held for nearly three years.
aya hijazi, acquitted, egypt, trafficking
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2017-39-17
Monday, 17 Apr 2017 05:39 PM
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