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US woman released from Egypt prison after 3 years' detention

Posted 1:05 p.m. Wednesday
Updated 1:07 p.m. Wednesday

— Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi was released from prison after nearly three years of detention, her lawyer said Wednesday.

The lawyer, Taher Abol Nasr, told The Associated Press that Hijazi was released late Tuesday, two days after a court acquitted her of charges of child abuse that were widely dismissed as bogus by human rights groups and U.S. officials.

Hijazi, a dual national, and her husband had established a foundation to aid street children in 2013, but were arrested along with six others in 2014. It was not immediately clear whether her co-defendants were also released.

President Donald Trump did not publicly mention the case when he met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi earlier this month, but a senior White House official had said ahead of the meeting that the case would be addressed.

It was not immediately clear if Hijazi, 30, would remain in Egypt following her release. Hijazi, who grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, received a degree in conflict resolution from George Mason University in 2009, and then returned to her native country.

Hijazi's foundation — named Belady, Arabic for "our nation" — had its offices raided after a man alleged that his son was missing and blamed it on Belady.

Egyptian authorities have clamped down on civil society, particularly human rights groups and other organizations that receive foreign funding. Such groups played a central role in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and pro-government media often present them as part of a conspiracy to undermine the state.

The authorities also arrested thousands of people in the months following the 2013 overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, mainly his Islamist supporters but also a number of secular and liberal activists.

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