CAIRO, Oct 17 (Aswat Masriya) – A number of activists and rights groups launched a social media campaign on Monday, calling for the release of Aya Hijazi who has been in pre-trial detention for 900 days.
Since her arrest in May 2014, Hijazi, a dual US-Egyptian citizen, has been detained for an array of charges against the Belady Foundation for Street Children, which she founded with her husband.
Hijazi's supporters are using the hashtag #FreeAya to mark her 900th day in detention, after the trial has been repeatedly postponed. She will spend at least another month in detention as in May the court adjourned the trial until Nov. 19.
Hijazi's pre-trial detention, which exceeded the two-year limit set by Egypt’s Penal Code, drew wide criticism locally and internationally. She along with the other defendants face accusations of sexually exploiting children, fraud and kidnapping.
The charges levelled against them also included inciting children to participate in demonstrations and physically torturing children.
US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was among those who called for Hijazi's release. The White House also demanded the release of Hijazi in a statement in September assuring her family that the US “will continue to offer her all possible consular support”.
The US statement was later criticised by Egypt’s foreign ministry who considered the demand as an “underestimation” of the rule of law principle, saying that Hijazi is in custody “for violating the Egyptian law and exploiting street children”.
Hijazi, her husband Mohamed Hassanein and six others were arrested after the police raided the foundation's office and searched it without a warrant from the prosecution. The arrests took place after a man alleged that his missing son had been held in the foundation's premises in Downtown Cairo, according to rights groups.
Founded in 2013, the foundation was established to provide shelter for street children, developing their skills and securing a safe environment for them, according to the foundation’s statement, released following the arrests.