Beyer Statement On Acquittal of Aya Hijazi and Her Co-Defendants in Egypt
Washington, April 16, 2017
Rep. Don Beyer hailed the news of the acquittal of his constituent Aya Hijazi, after three years of imprisonment without a fair trial in Egypt. Hijazi is a dual citizen of the United States and Egypt from Falls Church, Virginia. Hijazi’s co-defendants were exonerated as well, including her husband Mohamed.
“This wonderful news was a long time coming,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “I feel a deep sense of joy and relief for Aya, her husband, their colleagues at Belady who were imprisoned, Aya’s mother Naglaa, and her sister Alaa and brother Basel. I offer my humble thanks and congratulations today to them and to her many friends who worked so hard to raise the profile of this case and pressure the Egyptian government to gain her freedom.
Even as we clasp our hands in thanks for Aya’s release, we remember those who still suffer unjust imprisonment, in Egypt and elsewhere. That we have won a battle in the cause of human rights does not lessen the need to speak out and fight for justice around the world.”
Rep. Beyer brought Aya Hijazi’s case up in a series of letters and meetings with the Obama Administration, which urged officials including Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama to apply pressure to the Egyptian government.
He held a press conference in September of 2016 at the US Capitol, where members of Hijazi’s family, their counsel at RFK Human Rights, a friend from Hijazi’s academic program at George Mason University, representatives from human rights-focused NGOs, and fellow member of the Virginia delegation Gerry Connolly called for Hijazi’s release. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Egyptian President Sisi on Hijazi’s case in an in-person meeting several days later.
The White House, Secretary of State Kerry, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, and leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Sens. Tim Kaine, Ben Cardin, Marco Rubio, and Bob Corker, among others, raised the issue as well.
According to news reports, Aya Hijazi hopes to remain in Cairo caring for street children, the calling which brought her back to Egypt upon her graduation from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.