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Egyptian-American Charity Worker released from Prison after nearly 3 years of Detention

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FILE - Aya Hijazi, center, a dual U.S.-Egyptian citizen, is acquitted by an Egyptian court after nearly three years of detention over accusations related to running a foundation dedicated to helping street children, Cairo, April 16, 2017. VOA

Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi was released from prison after nearly three years of detention, her lawyer said Wednesday.

The lawyer, Taher Abol Nasr, told the Associated Press that Hijazi was released late Tuesday, two days after a court acquitted her of charges of child abuse that were widely dismissed as bogus by human rights groups and U.S. officials.

Hijazi, a dual national, and her husband had established a foundation to aid street children in 2013, but were arrested along with six others in 2014. It was not immediately clear whether her co-defendants were also released.

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President Donald Trump did not publicly mention the case when he met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi earlier this month, but a senior White House official had said ahead of the meeting that the case would be addressed.

It was not immediately clear if Hijazi, 30, would remain in Egypt following her release. Hijazi, who grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, received a degree in conflict resolution from George Mason University in 2009, and then returned to her native country.

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Hijazi’s foundation — named Belady, Arabic for “our nation” — had its offices raided after a man alleged that his son was missing and blamed it on Belady.

Egyptian authorities have clamped down on civil society, particularly human rights groups and other organizations that receive foreign funding. Such groups played a central role in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and pro-government media often present them as part of a conspiracy to undermine the state.

The authorities also arrested thousands of people in the months following the 2013 overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, mainly his Islamist supporters but also a number of secular and liberal activists. (VOA)

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Dating Apps Questioned Over Age Verification After Child Abuse Cases

Launched in 2012, Tinder has 57 million users around the world and Grindr, founded as a gay dating app in 2009, has 27 million users worldwide

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Dating apps Tinder and Grindr were being questioned over their age verification requirements after several child abuse cases came into light.

“Lax controls on apps used by millions, such as Tinder and Grindr are giving sexual predators and paedophiles easy access to children,” Britain’s The Sunday Times said in a report.

About 30 incidents of child rape have been investigated since 2015 in the UK alone.

online-dating
A man uses the dating app Tinder in New Delhi, India. (VOA)

“Documents reveal 60 further cases of child sex offences via online dating services, including grooming, kidnapping and violent sexual assault,” the report said on Monday.

A person 18 years or older cannot see Tinder profiles of users aged 17 and under. Similarily teenagers can view only profiles within the 13-17 age group, information available on public domain suggests.

The report, however, raised questions on the security of app users on such popular dating sites.

“We are consistently evaluating and refining our processes to prevent underage access, and will always work with law enforcement, where possible, to protect our users as well. We don’t to want minors on Tinder. Period,” The Verge quoted a Tinder spokesperson as saying.

Tinder Dating App. Source: Digital Trends

The dating companies claimed to have been using algorithmic and human screening tools to keep children from using their apps.

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“We are saddened to learn of these reports. Grindr is committed to creating a safe and secure environment to help our community connect and thrive, and any account of sexual abuse or other illegal behavior is troubling to us as well as a clear violation of our terms of service. We are constantly working to improve our tools,” a Grindr spokesperson said.

Launched in 2012, Tinder has 57 million users around the world and Grindr, founded as a gay dating app in 2009, has 27 million users worldwide. (IANS)