#FreeAya: Pressure building on Egypt to release George Mason University graduate

#FreeAya: Woman held 2 years in Egypt

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Two Northern Virginia representatives are pushing the Obama Administration to do more to get Egypt to release an American citizen from Falls Church who has been imprisoned under brutal conditions for nearly two and a half years.

Aya Hijazi’s brother and sister told Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) Thursday that “enough is enough.”

Hijazi is currently awaiting trial in Cairo. The Egyptian regime arrested her, her husband, and six volunteers at her non-profit group in 2014 on what international human rights groups said are trumped up charges of sexual abuse and the illegal formation of a foundation. The non-profit takes in some of the country's one to five million street children.

“Spending her youth in a prison for doing good,” her brother, Basel Hijazi, said with tears beginning to well up in his eyes. “It's just painful for us to observe that.”

The State Department insisted that it's providing "all possible assistance" to her.

U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted this week that she'd been "jailed for 865 days" for running a children's shelter.

But Rep. Beyer said the Obama Administration needs to do more.

“Let’s do all possible plus and let’s get her out,” Beyer said.

Hijazi may have been caught in an anti-American hysteria that swept Egypt after the 2013 coup d’état. But even under the country's own laws, she should have been released after spending two years in jail without trial.

“In the last few months, I think she's become increasingly hopeless,” said her sister, Alaa Hijazi.

Rep. Connolly is a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and warned that if the U.S. fails to stand up for Hijazi’s rights, it endangers the safety of every American who travels abroad.

Hijazi's supporters said U.S. pressure has helped free Americans held by opponents like Iran. And they said it certainly ought to be able to free an American unjustly held by an ally like Egypt -- an ally that gets $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid every year.


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