Sisi agreed to release Hijazi in 10-minutes, boasts Trump

Sisi agreed to release Hijazi in 10-minutes, boasts Trump
2 min read
US president Donald Trump bragged that it took him 10 minutes to get Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to agree to release Egyptian American aid worker Aya Hijazi.
Sisi during his US visit days before Hijazi's release [Getty]

US president Donald Trump bragged in an interview with Washington Examiner that it "took him only ten minutes" to secure the release of Egyptian American aid worker Aya Hijazi and her co-defendants.

Trump met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi two weeks ago. A day later Hijazi and her co-defendants were found innocent of human trafficking and sexual abuse, crimes they had spent three years in temporary detention for.

On his part, president Sisi denied that he interferes with judicial rulings in any way but the Trump administration has taken credit for approaching Sisi to secure Hijazi’s release.

Trump clings onto this achievement as the hallmark of his 100 days in office because his predecessor Obama failed to get Hijazi released.

Read also: Hijazi is home, but Egypt's political prisoners languish, forgotten

"As you know, President Obama tried to have Aya released for three and a half years," Trump said. "They were unsuccessful. I was with President Sisi for 10 minutes. During that 10 minute session, I said it would be a great honour for this country and I think it would be a very positive step if Aya were released."

According to Trump Sisi replied, "I would like to consider that."

Trump also claimed that the reason behind the Obama administration’s failure to get Hijazi released was because Sisi and Obama disliked one another. He went on to explain that his relationship with the Egyptian president is the opposite of his predecessor’s.

In praising Sisi’s interference, Trump asserted: “I very much appreciated it. She would have been in jail for 28 years. She is a young person. She is a good person. She is a totally innocent person."

Hijazi was running a foundation called Belady, dedicated to helping street children, when she and her husband, Mohammed Hassanein, were arrested in May 2014.

Egyptian authorities accused Hijazi of abusing children in her care and engaging in human trafficking, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, torture and inciting street children to join pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests.

Hjazi was not a prominent political activist, but her arrest came as Sisi was crushing political dissent a year on from his military coup.