Aya Hijazi, a 30-year-old American citizen, finally made it back to the United States after being imprisoned for three years in Egypt. Hijazi, who co-founded the Belady Foundation alongside her husband to provide aid to street children in Cairo, was arrested in 2014 on charges of child abuse.
Hijazi, who has dual citizenship in Egypt and the United States, met with President Donald Trump Friday.
“We are very happy to have Aya back home,” said Trump. “It’s a great honor to have her in the Oval Office with her brother.”
Hijazi and her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, were arrested in May 2014 after police raided their foundation without a warrant, according to a report issued by Human Rights Watch. The couple and several others were charged with human trafficking, sexual exploitation of children, using children in anti-government protests and operating an unlicensed organization.
Her trial was held entirely behind closed doors, according to Human Rights Watch.
“The case of Aya Hijazi and her co-defendants has been nothing less than a travesty of justice,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for Human Rights Watch said in a March report. “Defendants have been unable to meet privately with lawyers, hearings have been repeatedly adjourned for long periods, while the court has routinely rejected, without explanation, numerous requests for release on bail, resulting in what appears to amount to arbitrary detention.”
Hijazi and her husband were acquitted earlier in April of the charges, which officials in the U.S. said were unfounded.
The Obama administration reportedly attempted to get Hijazi released without success. Her eventual release was facilitated by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and she was flown to Joint Base Andrews near Washington, D.C. Thursday.
“As far as the release of the American citizen, she was found innocent in the Egyptian courts and appropriate she is returned home,” Mattis told reporters Friday in Tel Aviv. “We were happy to hear she was found innocent.”