News / Middle East

Egypt Announces Morsi Criminal Probe

Morsi supporters remove part of a street to block a highway that links to the airport, Cairo, July 12, 2013.
Morsi supporters remove part of a street to block a highway that links to the airport, Cairo, July 12, 2013.
Reuters
Egypt announced a criminal investigation on Saturday against deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, with prosecutors saying they were examining complaints of spying, inciting violence and ruining the economy.
 
Egypt's first freely elected leader has been held at an undisclosed location since the army removed him from power on July 3, but has not yet been charged with any crime. In recent days, Washington has called for him to be freed and for the authorities to stop arresting leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood.
 
The public prosecutor's office said in a statement it had received complaints against Morsi, eight other named Islamist figures including the Brotherhood's leader, Mohamed Badie, and others it did not identify.
 
The military says it deposed Morsi in a justified response to popular demand after millions of people demonstrated against him. The Brotherhood says it was a coup that reversed democracy.
 
Turmoil in the most populous Arab state has alarmed the United States and other Western donors. Egypt straddles the Suez Canal and signed a U.S.-brokered peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
 
Complaints such as those against Morsi are a first step in the criminal process, allowing prosecutors to begin an investigation that can lead to charges. Announcing the step was unusual: typically prosecutors wait until charges are filed.
 
The prosecutors did not say who had made the complaints. Egyptian law allows them to investigate complaints from police or any member of the public.
 
Badie and several other Brotherhood officials already face charges for inciting violence that were announced earlier this week, but few of them have been arrested.
 
Asked about the announcement of criminal investigations against Morsi, Badie and others, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "I can't speak to the specifics of this investigation, but generally speaking, we have made clear the need to follow due process, respect the rule of law, and avoid politicized arrests and investigations."
 
Brotherhood rejects charges

A senior army official told Reuters the authorities were allowing the Brotherhood figures to remain at large in part so that they could monitor their activities and collect evidence against them to ensure that any case was watertight.
 
"We will leave them to do their talking and protests and we are sure at the end everything will be resolved smoothly and legally," said the official, who asked not to be identified.
 
Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said the charges were absurd and that it was the authorities themselves who were responsible for inciting violence.

"They execute the crime themselves and then they slap it on their opponents. As long as you have a criminal police force and a complicit judiciary, the evidence will appear and the judge will be satisfied. And the media will sell it to the public."
 
Morsi's Brotherhood called on Saturday for more mass demonstrations after large protests broke up peacefully before dawn, ending a week in which at least 90 people were killed.
 
The Brotherhood, which has maintained a vigil near a Cairo mosque since before the army removed Morsi on July 3, has said it will not leave the streets until he is restored to power.
 
Tens of thousands turned out on Friday for what the Brotherhood called a "day of marching on." Large crowds of supporters dispersed early on Saturday, although a few hundred marched again after nightfall towards the defense ministry.
 
Morsi’s opponents say these demonstrations are still much smaller than the ones that brought him down. However, the Brotherhood has shown its organizational muscle by keeping its vigil running into a third week and bringing in coachloads of supporters from the provinces during the Ramadan fasting month.

Senior Brotherhood figure Essam el-Erian, one of those who faces arrest, called on his Facebook page for more demonstrations on Monday. "Egypt decides through the ballot box, through protests, mass marches and peaceful sit-ins," he said.
 
Bloody week

Friday's demonstration passed off peacefully, in contrast to a week earlier when 35 people were killed in battles between pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators.

Story continues below photo gallery
  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi perform weekly Friday prayers at the Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo where they are camping, July 12, 2013.
  • A supporter of Morsi is doused with water on a hot day in Cairo, July 12, 2013.
  • Supporters of the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout anti-army slogans during a sit-in protest in Cairo July 11, 2013.
  • Morsi Supporters pray after breaking their fast during Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, July 11, 2013.
  • An Egyptian boy stands among Morsi supporters who are offering the Tarawih prayer after the evening meal during Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during a rally in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi protest at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi joins in a protest at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi reads the Koran at the Rabaa Adawiya square, Cairo,  July 9, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at their camp in Rabaa Adawiy square, Cairo, July 9, 2013. 
  • A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi with a national flag gestures to army soldiers guard at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 9, 2013.
  • Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Morsi at Republican Guard headquarters in Nasr City, Cairo, July 8, 2013. 
  • Supporters Morsi carry the body of a fellow supporter killed by violence outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
  • Morsi supporters mourn protesters who died during clashes with army soldiers in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
  • Wounded supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi wait for treatment at a field hospital in Cairo, July 8, 2013. 

On Monday, 57 people were killed in clashes between the army and Morsi supporters near a Cairo barracks. The army said it was responding to an attack; the Brotherhood called it a massacre.
 
Egypt's interim authorities have set out a "road map" to restore full civilian rule, with plans for a new constitution and parliamentary elections in about six months, followed by a presidential vote. A judge has been named interim president and liberal economist Hazem el-Beblawi appointed prime minister.
 
He is trying to form a Cabinet likely to be made up mainly of technocrats and liberals, without offending a large ultra-orthodox Islamist group that broke with the Brotherhood to accept the military takeover.
 
By the end of Saturday, candidates for many of the key ministries had been identified, although they had yet to accept them and the decisions were not final.
 
Two senior interim government sources said Beblawi planned to offer the finance portfolio to Hany Kadri, a Christian who has overseen stalled loan talks with the International Monetary Fund, and the supplies ministry to Godah Abdel Khalik, a leftist politician who held the position briefly in 2011.
 
Another Christian, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, a liberal who previously served as tourism minister, will be invited to head the investment ministry.
 
A former ambassador to Washington, Nabil Fahmy, will be offered the foreign ministry, while General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who carried out the overthrow of Morsi, will retain the defense portfolio as expected.
 
The United States refuses to say whether it considers the army takeover a "coup," which under U.S. law would require it to cut off aid including $1.3 billion a year in military support.
 
In recent days it has described Morsi's rule as undemocratic because of the vast popular protests against him, but also urged the authorities to release him and stop detaining his followers. Its wavering position has infuriated both sides.
 
Turmoil since a popular uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has wrecked Egypt's economy, scaring away tourists and investors, draining hard currency reserves and making it difficult to import food and fuel, which the government distributes at heavily subsidized prices.
 
Rich Gulf Arab states Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, happy at the overthrow of the Brotherhood, have offered Egypt $12 billion in cash, loans and fuel.
 
State news agency MENA said a shipment of 70,000 tons of diesel arrived in Alexandria on Saturday from Turkey and Sweden.

Egypt's crisis has raised fears over security in the lawless Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, where militants attack security forces checkpoints almost daily.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs