President Donald Trump discussed his negotiation with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to free an American prisoner and knocked former President Barack Obama for failing to achieve the former prisoner's release.
"As you know, President Obama tried to have Aya released for three and a half years," Trump said, according to the Washington Examiner, regarding the release of Aya Hizaji, an American aid worker who was imprisoned in Egypt. "They were unsuccessful. I was with President el-Sissi for 10 minutes. During that 10-minute session, I said it would be a great honor for this country and I think it would be a very positive step if Aya were released."
Trump said that Sissi replied: "I would like to consider that," and Trump reiterated his interest in the issue and said the issue was "really very" important.
"And he was so great. He not only released Aya, he released her husband, and he released eight people total ... I thought it was fantastic," Trump said.
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Trump went on to say that he believes Sissi is a good person.
"I know that he didn't like President Obama, and I know President Obama did not like him. But I do like him. And I thought it was a great and brilliant gesture," Trump explained. "And I very much appreciated it. [Hizaji] would have been in jail for 28 years. She is a young person. She is a good person. She is a totally innocent person."
Hizaji, along with her Egyptian husband, Mohamed Hassanein, was arrested on May 1, 2014, on child abuse and trafficking charges. But according to The Washington Post, those charges were widely dismissed by human rights workers. U.S. officials who investigated the case said the charges were false.
"We’re crying with relief to have them out," said Basel Hizaji, Aya's father. "We’re very grateful that President Trump personally engaged with the issue. Working closely with the Trump administration was very important for my family at this critical time. It let us be reunited as a family. We’re so grateful."
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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican Senator from Tennessee who advocated for Hijazi’s release, said Trump "handled it the way things like this should be handled."
"The United States can sometimes lead with things, and do it publicly, [in ways] that are offensive to people and likely not get the kind of result that we’d like, whereas working it quietly and making it a priority, but doing so in a way that is not a public embarrassment to the other party, that’s the way they worked this," Corker said.