UPDATE: On April 16, 2017, Egyptian-American Aya Hijazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein, the founders of Belady Foundation for Street Children, were were found not guilty and released. The foundation was launched in 2013 and focused on rehabilitating Cairo’s street children and broader developmental programs. On May 1, 2014, the organization’s offices were raided and the couple was arrested alongside two volunteers and 17 children who were on the premises at the time. The couple was charged with “child abuse,” “human trafficking,” and “inciting and exploiting children to participate in violent protests,” among other charges.
After the arrest, Hassanein and the children were severely beaten by police and the children were asked to falsely testify that they were abused by the couple. The couple has been held in pre-trial detention for the past two years with their trial being repeatedly postponed by authorities.
Egyptian and the international community have called for the immediate release of Aya Hegazy and Mohamed Hassanein. In May 2016, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Center submitted a petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention urging immediate action. In addition, U.S. Representative Donald S. Beyer urged the State Department to speak out on behalf of Aya Hegazy, who grew up in the U.S., when the Egyptian Foreign Minister visited the United States on July 22, 2016.
Despite international pressure, the couple remains in prison after their judicial proceeding was adjourned for seventh time until November 19, 2016. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!