An American imprisoned in Egypt for nearly three years is hoping her custody may end soon.
Aya Hijazi, 29, is a dual citizen of the United States and Egypt who returned to Egypt with her husband to start a foundation to help homeless children called Belady.
However, under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s crackdown on civil society, Hijazi and her husband, Mohammad Hassanein, were arrested in 2014 along with six others on the accusation they were involved in child abuse and that the foundation was linked to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
However, Hijazi’s family’s optimism of her release grows as her case draws further international condemnation and the lack of evidence exposed.
The case against Hijazi has been blasted by human rights groups and observers as being built on a statements coerced from children that have since been retracted. Her trial has also been repeatedly adjourned, leaving her incarcerated without access to hearings.
Laptops seized from her premises have now been reviewed, and a 180-page report has been prepared showing no evidence of any abuse of children, according to her lawyer.
According to Hijazi’s attorney, the arresting officers testified that the arrest was so long ago they could not remember any details and could not identify Hijazi in court. The forensic report also showed no physical evidence of abuse.
One of the six arrested with Hijazi and her husband were released recently on health grounds. A new judge appointed to the case has also begun to move through legal proceedings more swiftly.
“There is no real independence of the judiciary in Egypt,” Hijazi’s lawyer said. “But there are judges who are able to manage more independence than others.”
During the US presidential campaign, both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump met with President Al-Sisi when he came to the United States, with Clinton explicitly calling for Hijazi’s release.
However, it remains to be seen how Trump will take on the case and whether he will pressure Al-Sisi to release Hijazi when he takes office next year.