President Trump welcomed Aya Hijazi, an American aid worker detained for three years in Egypt, to the Oval Office on Friday after quietly working to secure her release this week.
“We are very happy to have Aya back home and it’s a great honor to have her in the Oval Office,” Mr. Trump said during a brief photo opportunity less than 24 hours after a government plane landed with her at an Air Force base outside of Washington.
Ms. Hijazi, who holds dual American and Egyptian citizenship and attended George Mason University in Virginia, was arrested in Egypt in 2014 on charges of child abuse and human trafficking.
Human right groups had mocked the charges against Ms. Hijazi and her husband, who worked at the Beladi Foundation, a nonprofit organization that she founded to care for street children in Cairo. Her case had become a symbol for the treatment of aid workers by the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Mr. Trump’s administration swiftly claimed credit for working behind the scenes to free Ms. Hijazi and other aid workers. Charges against the workers were dropped in an Egyptian court last Sunday.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump directed his national security team weeks ago to work on securing her freedom. Mr. Spicer said the president talked privately about her case when he met with Mr. Sisi at the White House earlier this month.
“We’re just pleased that she’s back home,” Mr. Spicer said. “The president and the team successfully worked to have her brought home.”
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SOURCE: NY Times, Michael D. Shear and Declan Walsh