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Aya Hegazy returns to US after 3 years of pre-trial detention - Daily News Egypt

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Aya Hegazy returns to US after 3 years of pre-trial detention

In the past couple of years, several detainees left the country following their release

After three years of being imprisoned without facing charges, Aya Hegazy, the founder of the Beladi Foundation to help street children in Egypt, has been released from prison upon her acquittal.

Hegazy, who holds US citizenship, was received in the US by president Donald Trump at the White House on Friday.

Hegazy and her husband, along with other six defendants, were imprisoned for three years pending trial over accusations of committing child abuse and human trafficking through the foundation.

Hegazy was taken to the US on a military aeroplane with her husband Mohamed Hassanein.

International media outlets reported that Hegazy’s release came after negotiations between the US administration and Egypt over the issue.

Political analyst Tarek Fahmy commented on this to Daily News Egypt on Saturday, saying that Hegazy was only released after concluding her legal trial and fulfilling all conditions for her release.

Fahmy denied that any pressure from the US to release Hegazy was the reason behind her freedom, saying that there have been previous attempts by US officials, including former secretary of state Hilary Clinton, to call for her release, but that it did not happen.

However, the White House stated on Friday that it intervened behind the scenes to secure Hegazy’s release, with president Trump also addressing the issue in his recent meeting with president Al-Sisi.

Some public figures and activists saw that their return to the US provided them with a better situation, criticising her imprisonment in Egypt.

Egyptian Novelist Alaa Al-Aswany commented on his Twitter account, saying that in the US, Hegazy was in a democratic country, or “in the light”, after three years of imprisonment in Egypt.

Hegazy is not the first prisoner to leave the country following release; a number of detainees before her did so.

In September, four Coptic teenagers arrived in Switzerland to seek asylum, directly after concluding five-year prison sentences on charges of contempt of Islam, a charge often criticised by human rights and freedoms advocates.

US citizen Mohamed Sultan, who was also an Egyptian-American citizen, spent nearly two years in prison on charges of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. Soltan travelled to the US following his release.

Soltan was criticised and described as a traitor at the time in the Egyptian political community, since he relinquished his Egyptian citizenship. In fact, Soltan renounced his Egyptian nationality as a result of a presidential decree that would allow him to leave the country as a foreign citizen without necessarily completing trial or serving prison terms.

The law was issued during the trial of Al-Jazeera journalists, which included Peter Greste, an Australian journalist, and Mohamed Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian citizen. Fahmy also had to renounce his Egyptian citizenship to be eligible for release. When released, he travelled to Canada and, a few months later, Egyptian authorities agreed to grant him his Egyptian nationality based on his request.

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