Egypt rejects US calls to release American-Egyptian activist

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The Egyptian foreign ministry has rejected calls from the White House to release Egyptian-American citizen Aya Higazi imprisoned on allegations of “sexually exploiting street children”.

Egypt rejected calls for the activist’s release saying they would undermine its legal system.

“We condemn the insistence of some official circles in the US to attempt to undermine the rule of law… to the extent that they demand the release of a defendant on the sole basis that they are a US citizen,” an online ministry statement read. “In return, we demand the release of Egyptian prisoners in the US, as well as dropping charges against them,” the statement continued.

Last week, US Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines released a statement calling on Egypt “to drop all charges against Higazi and release her from prison” and promised the Higazi family the US’ continued offer for all “possible consular support”.

Higazi was arrested in Egypt on May 2014 with her husband whilst heading a foundation called Belady created to help Egypt’s street children. She was arrested by Egyptian authorities who accused her organisation of child abuse, human trafficking and inciting street children to join Muslim Brotherhood protests. Amal’s sister, Alaa Higazi, called the charges “absolutely absurd and unfounded” and only made sense “in the context of the Egyptian government’s campaign against intellectuals, academics and others that it deems a threat to its authority.”

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