Egypt questions Brotherhood’s top leader in prison
In this image taken from Egypt State TV, Mohammed Badie, the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is seen after being detained by Egyptian security in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Egypt's military-backed rulers are pressing on in their crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood with the arrest early Tuesday of the group's spiritual leader who had been in hiding near the huge sit-in in support of the country's ousted Islamist president, which security forces violently dispersed a week ago, leaving hundreds dead. (AP Photo/Egypt State TV)
FILE -- In this Saturday, April 13, 2013 file photo, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters from behind bars as he attends a hearing in his retrial on appeal in Cairo, Egypt. Egyptian judiciary officials say former President Hosni Mubarak could be freed from custody this week. They say a court on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 ordered his release in a corruption case that alleged he and his two sons embezzled funds for presidential palaces. (AP Photo, File)
In this Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 photo, Egyptian army forces search vehicles at a check point during curfew in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt. The capital is remaining under a state of emergency and a dusk-to-dawn curfew. (AP Photo/ Ahmed Gomaa)
Egypt’s military-backed authorities arrested the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme leader yesterday, dealing a serious blow to the embattled movement at a time when it is struggling to keep up street protests against the ouster of president Mohammed Morsi in the
face of a harsh government crackdown.
The Brotherhood’s spiritual guide, Mohammed Badie, was arrested in an apartment in the Cairo district of Nasr City, close to the site of a sit-in encampment that was forcibly cleared by security forces last week, triggering violence that killed hundreds of people.
Badie’s arrest is the latest move in an escalating crackdown by authorities on the Brotherhood, which has seen hundreds of its members taken into custody.
The Muslim Brotherhood said Badie’s detention would not weaken the movement or lead its followers away from their principles.
“The people will continue their peaceful struggle until they regain all their rights with his eminence, the guide (leader) in jail,” it said.
The group’s near-daily protests since Morsi’s ouster have diminished in recent days, with scattered demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere attracting mere hundreds, or even dozens, of protesters. Yesterday, several hundred Morsi supporters staged protests in Helwan, an industrial suburb north of Cairo, and in Ein Shams, a residential district on the opposite end of the city, shortly before the 11-hour curfew went into effect at 7 p.m.
Morsi has been detained in an undisclosed location since the July 3 coup that ousted him, following protests by millions of Egyptians against his rule. He is facing accusations of conspiring with the militant Palestinian Hamas group to escape from prison during the 2011 uprising and complicity in the killing and torture of protesters outside his Cairo palace in December.
Badie’s last public appearance was at the Nasr City protest encampment last month, where he delivered a fiery speech from a makeshift stage in which he denounced the military’s removal of Morsi. His arrest followed the killing of his son Ammar, who was shot dead during violent clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters in Cairo on Friday.
Badie and his powerful deputy, Khairat el-Shater, are to stand trial later this month on charges of complicity in the killing in June of eight protesters outside the Brotherhood’s national headquarters in Cairo.
Badie was taken to Tora prison in a suburb south of Cairo, where a team of prosecutors was questioning him, security officials said.
Tora is the same sprawling complex where ex-president Hosni Mubarak, ousted in the 2011 popular uprising, is being held, along with his two sons. Several Mubarak-era figures are also imprisoned there, as are several Brotherhood leaders and other Islamists.