Egyptian-American aid worker Aya Hijazi has been cleared of charges of child abuse and human trafficking which kept her in detention for three years in Cairo. The judge also dropped charges against her husband and the six other defendants in the case.
Hijazi was arrested along with her husband Mohamed Hassanein and other members of the Beladi Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Hijazi that cares for street children in Cairo. They were accused of human trafficking, using children in protests and sexually abusing children in their care.
The case was part of Sisi’s wider crackdown on activists and organisations working for human rights with the aim of stifling dissent. Sisi has portrayed aid groups that receive foreign funding as unpatriotic with a willingness to destabilise the country.
The move to release Hijazi comes after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s recent visit the US, where he met Donald Trump at the White House. Senior American officials said they raised Hijazi’s case – which attracted considerable international attention – during Sisi’s visit.
Hassanein has said the couple hope to return to their work with street children in Cairo but was unsure whether or not the government would allow them to.