US Defense Secretary Looks to Rebuild Trust in Egypt Visit

Laura Christensen
April 21, 2017

Hijazi, who grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, and graduated from George Mason University, was working in Cairo with the Belady Foundation, which she and her husband established as a haven and rehabilitation center for street children in Cairo.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump said he struck "no deal" for the release of an Egyptian-American charity worker who had been detained in the country for almost three years.

The couple and their co-workers had been incarcerated since May 1, 2014, on child abuse and trafficking charges that were widely dismissed by human rights workers and United States officials as false.

She was released from jail on Tuesday after almost three years of detention on human trafficking charges.

The bilateral relations between Egypt and US worsened during Trump's predecessor Barrack Obama's administration after the Egyptian military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Trump and his aides had engaged in behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to gain her freedom after attempts by the previous Obama administration failed.

The breakthrough in Hijazi's case comes after the president earlier this month welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the White House.

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Baker had ruled that the use of midazolam, a sedative, may violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishments. But the judge was taken off the case by the state's Supreme Court and the temporary restraining order was thrown out.

According to the Post, Hijaz and her husband landed in Washington on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET and she is scheduled to meet Friday with Trump, his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Powell had been in the region traveling with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Defense officials said Mattis' discussions Thursday also included Egypt's relationship with neighboring Israel and its continued role in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.

They were accused of child abuse and human trafficking.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday said Trump and his team had "worked behind the scenes" to bring her home. "We're crying with relief to have them out".

The insurgency in the Sinai took off after Morsi's ouster with the Islamic State group increasingly expanding its attacks to other parts of Egypt.

After meeting Sisi, Mattis held talks with Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi at his headquarters, where he was received with a marching band playing the USA national anthem.

Trump's predecessor Barack Obama froze aid to Egypt for two years after Sisi, then a general, overthrew President Mohamed Mursi in mid-2013 after mass protests against Mursi's rule. USA officials said no specific commitments were made Thursday.

Other reports by My Hot News

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