Politics Freed U.S. aid worker visits Oval Office after 3 years in Cairo prison

22:23  21 april  2017
22:23  21 april  2017 Source:   USA TODAY

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President Donald Trump meets with Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American aid worker , in the Oval office of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 21, 2017. Hijazi, an Egyptian-American charity worker was freed after nearly three years of detention in Egypt returning to the U . S ., Thursday, April 20, 2017.

An Egyptian-American aid worker has flown home to the United States after spending three years in a Cairo prison , after Donald Trump' s administration negotiated her release.

  Freed U.S. aid worker visits Oval Office after 3 years in Cairo prison © Provided by USA Today

WASHINGTON — President Trump greeted American charity worker Aya Hijazi in the Oval Office Friday as White House officials credited his personal intervention for her release by Egyptian authorities who had held her for nearly three years.

"We are very happy to have Aya back home and it’s a great  honor to have her in the Oval Office," Trump said..

The meeting, documented in a brief, unscheduled photo opportunity, came less than 24 hours after Aya Hijazi's release from a Cairo prison.

Hijazi, 30, and her husband Mohamed Hassanein, an Egyptian, were freed along with four other humanitarian workers. They were flown aboard a U.S. government plane to the Washington area Thursday night, according to The Washington Post, which was first to report their release. Hijazi, a dual national, was born in Egypt and grew up in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Falls Church, Va.

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Hijazi, an Egyptian-American charity worker was freed after nearly three years of detention in Egypt returning to the U . S ., Thursday, April 20, 2017. less. Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American aid worker , meets with President Donald Trump in the Oval office of the White House in Washington, Friday

The president, who shook hands with Hijazi at one point during the photo opportunity, did not take any questions from reporters. Trump and Hijazi were seated in adjoining chairs, while the president's daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who had reportedly followed Hijazi’s case, were seated on nearby couches.

Also on hand were Hijazi's brother Basel and Dina Powell, an Egyptian-American business executive now serving as Trump's deputy national security adviser.

Hijazi, who had worked with street children in Cairo through a foundation she co-founded, was acquitted on Sunday of charges of child abuse, trafficking, sexual exploitation and torture that human rights groups and U.S. officials had dismissed as bogus. At the time, Egyptian authorities were cracking down on civil society groups.

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Hijazi's husband and six others were also found not guilty, according to the French news agency AFP. The trial had been repeatedly postponed since the arrests in May 2014.

Administration officials declined to discuss the details of talks leading to Hijazi's release. White House spokesman Sean Spicer did say that Trump specifically addressed her situation during his meeting earlier this month with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

During the visit, Trump publicly offered Washington's "strong backing" for the former Army chief who took power in a military coup in 2013.

“It was brought up, and obviously we had some helpful and productive conversations that were able to bring her back,” he said. “I think this was handled primarily through diplomatic channels.”

Spicer said he couldn’t speak to what efforts were made to secure Hijazi’s release during President Obama's administration, but that Trump’s personal intervention is what led to her release.

“Most of this was directly tied to his staff and his action,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re just pleased that she’s back home, and it will be up to others to compare the strategies.”

Trump sent a U.S. government plane to Cairo to bring the group back, escorted by his military aide, Air Force Maj. Wes Spurlock, the Post reported.

Contributing: Gregory Korte

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