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Egyptian-American activist Aya Hegazi returns to US following Egypt court acquittal

Ahram Online , Friday 21 Apr 2017
Aya Hegazi
Egyptian-American activist Aya Hegazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein, talk inside a holding cell (Photo: Reuters)
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Freed Egyptian-American activist Aya Hegazi has returned to the United States only a few days after an Egyptian court acquitted her and others of charges related to the abuse and exploitation of children, following three years of detention.

A White House official who was not authorised to discuss the case by name and requested anonymity told AP Thursday evening that Hegazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein, an Egyptian included in the case, had arrived in the Washington area.

On Sunday, the court acquitted the seven other defendants in the case after finding them not guilty of charges of human trafficking, kidnapping and the sexual exploitation and torture of children.

Hegazi, now 30, and her husband were arrested in May 2014 over allegations that her NGO Belady Initiative, which works with street children in Cairo, was involved in child abuse and was operating without a licence.

Local and international rights groups have criticised the case, alleging a lack of evidence and complaining about the prolonged pre-trial detention.

During his April visit to the US, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that he might be willing to give Hegazi a presidential pardon if she were convicted.

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