by William Teach | April 21, 2017 6:58 am
Yesterday, the Washington Post was Very Concerned over the possibility that Mr. Trump was hollowing out American leadership. Today, Mr. Trump shows that leadership is taking care of the people he was elected to serve
American detained in Egypt for 3 years returns to U.S. after Trump intervention
An Egyptian American charity worker who was imprisoned in Cairo for three years and became the global face of Egypt’s brutal crackdown on civil society returned home to the United States late Thursday after the Trump administration quietly negotiated her release.
President Trump and his aides worked for several weeks with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to secure the freedom of Aya Hijazi, 30, a U.S. citizen, as well as her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, who is Egyptian, and four other humanitarian workers. Trump dispatched a U.S. government aircraft to Cairo to bring Hijazi and her family to Washington.
The couple and their co-workers had been incarcerated since May 1, 2014, on child abuse and trafficking charges that were widely dismissed by human rights workers and U.S. officials as false. Virtually no evidence was ever presented against them, and for nearly three years they were held as hearings were inexplicably postponed and trial dates canceled. Human rights groups alleged that they were abused in detention.
Good for him. Of course, you didn’t think that the Washington Post could let this ride without taking a swipe at Trump and trying to make Obama look like He Tried, right?
The Obama administration unsuccessfully pressed Sissi’s government for their release. It was not until Trump moved to reset U.S. relations with Egypt by embracing Sissi at the White House on April 3 — he publicly hailed the autocrat’s leadership as “fantastic” and offered the U.S. government’s “strong backing” — that Egypt’s posture changed. Last Sunday, a court in Cairo dropped all charges against Hijazi and the others.
Of course, Sissi is not the greatest of guys, but, he’s a damned sight better than the Muslim Brotherhood fanatic Obama embraced, Mohamed Morsi. Furthermore, it was the Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor, Jackson Diehl, who ran this piece back on July 10, 2016
The Obama administration ignores an American imprisoned in Egypt
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A few snippets
And the Obama administration’s response to this gross persecution of an American? Absolute silence. When Hijazi was smeared as a sex criminal and a U.S. secret agent on Egyptian state television; when her pretrial detention passed Egypt’s legal limit of two years; when her case was postponed seven times on ridiculous pretexts — the State Department did not offer a single word of defense or public protest.
On May 19, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights filed a petition on Hijazi’s case to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. It said Hijazi had been subjected to “coercive interrogation techniques.” One security officer “hit her neck, bringing her to her knees, called her names, threatened to urinate into her vagina, and said that she should be sentenced to death or at minimum, life imprisonment.” The Obama administration remained silent.
So what explains the failure to defend this equally innocent, if less prominent, U.S. citizen? The obvious answer is that the Obama administration is loath to acknowledge that the U.S. relationship with longtime ally Egypt has turned toxic — that Sissi treats Americans in Egypt as enemies even while pocketing bounteous U.S. aid. When I asked about the case last week, a State Department official who declined to be identified offered a technical excuse: State had not received written permission from Hijazi to speak out. That is disputed by Hijazi’s family, which says she signed a waiver; Rezaian (who was held in Iran and did receive support from Obama) also told me he never provided such written consent.
A few Obama advisors did release a wishy washy statement in October, 2016, which “reiterated the president’s deep concern for the welfare of all American citizens held abroad” or something. His concern wasn’t deep enough to actually get involved and do something, though.
Nor was this a partisan issue. Americans of all stripes, including Senators and Representatives of both parties, were calling on Egypt to release Hijazi, and for Obama to get involved. For the most part, he couldn’t be bothered.
A senior administration official said that no quid pro quo had been offered for Hijazi’s release but that there had been “assurance from the highest levels [of Sissi’s government] that whatever the verdict was, Egypt would use presidential authority to send her home.” The official said the U.S. side interpreted that to mean that a guilty verdict and sentencing would be followed by a pardon from Sissi, but they were pleasantly surprised.
The dropping of charges set in motion the release of Hijazi and Hassanein from custody and their journey to the United States, which was personally overseen by Trump and detailed Thursday by the senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the national security sensitivities of the case.
So, Trump, along with high ranking members of his team, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, both of who went to Egypt, were involved. All for just one American. Because, really, if it isn’t the president’s job to safeguard just one American, what else is the job of president good for? And, when the POTUS gets involved with the case of just one American, it shows international players that he takes interest in the small things. So don’t mess with American.
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.
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