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

22 April 2017

A USA diplomat in Washington has revealed to London-based Qatari "The New Arab" that President Donald Trump has intervened in the release of United States charity worker Aya Hijazi arrested almost three years ago in Egypt for child abuse and human trafficking.

Her name is Aya Hijazi, and her attorney credits Trump for securing both her freedom and return to the U.S.

Aya and her husband, the founders of an NGO which looked after street children, had been charged with human trafficking, abduction, and sexual abuse for pornography, among other accusations.

Trump had been briefed on the issue early in his presidency and directed his team to find a diplomatic solution to her detainment, Spicer said.

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Hijazi's husband, an Egyptian national, was also released.

Mr. Trump said he would take no questions from the press, but did respond to one question about the possibility of a government shutdown, saying, "I think we're in good shape".

President Trump did not publicly mention the case when he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi earlier this month, but a senior White House official had said ahead of the meeting that the case would be addressed.

Mr. Trump greeted Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian who holds USA citizenship, in the Oval Office shortly after her return to the US on a military flight from Cairo. "Thank you very much".

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Aya Hijazi was brought back to her family in Washington, along with her husband, on a USA military plane on Thursday (20 April).

Hijazi's brother, Basel Hijazi, also attended the White House meeting, along with Trump aides Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Dina Powell. But Obama not only refused to help her, he threatened to prosecute her family if they paid the ransom demanded for her release.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in the Egyptian capital Thursday morning seeking to strengthen bonds with the country's leaders that were strained under the previous presidential administration. "I'd like to say next week, but it will be - I believe we will get it". But the former president had a tough stance on Sisi, including barring him from the White House over Egypt's human rights policies.

A US defense official said Mattis' meetings with Sisi and Egypt's defense minister had focused on building trust to allow for stronger military ties.

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