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.
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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs