Morsi espionage trial adjourned amid ongoing media ban


The trial of former President Mohamed Morsi and 35 others on charges of espionage was adjourned on Tuesday to May 17, and the gag order on the case extended, the Middle East News Agency reported.


The charges include plotting acts of terrorism, conspiring with foreign elements, coordinating with terrorist organizations inside and outside Egypt, and threatening national security by disclosing secrets to foreign powers. 


Tuesday’s court decision also included an extension of the media ban on the case, which had been initially issued on April 22.


The case involves 20 defendants who are under detention, including Morsi, the Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, Brotherhood leaders Khairat al-Shater, Saad al-Katatny, Essam al-Erian, Mohamed al-Beltagy, Safwat Hegazy, Saad al-Hosseiny, and Hazem Mansour, as well as two of Morsi’s presidential advisors, Essam al-Haddad and Mohie Hamed. Arrest warrants have been issued against 16 other defendants, including Mahmoud Ezzat, who’s rumored to be the Brotherhood’s current acting Supreme Guide, MENA reported.


According to the prosecution, Morsi and his co-defendants sought military training for Brotherhood members by smuggling them through illegal tunnels into the Gaza Strip, where they allegedly received combat training at the hands of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.


The plan was allegedly for the trained militants to return to Egypt to carry out terrorist operations at the behest of Morsi, the prosecution claimed. They are also accused of conspiring with terrorist groups and extremists in Sinai to carry out terrorist acts, providing media training for other members of the Brotherhood — to spread rumors and direct public opinions to serve their interests — as well as communicating with “the West” through Qatar and Turkey.


Earlier in January, Morsi threatened to request that former Field Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces under Mubarak, Hussein Tantawi, former Chief-of-Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Sami Anan, as well as current presidential hopeful Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — in his capacity as former head of military intelligence and former defense minister — also stand before the court if the trial continued.


“If I’m accused of espionage since January 25, 2011, why did they remain silent all this time? How did they allow me to run for presidential elections and become the elected president?” Morsi asked, claiming that certain “large countries” would not allow the trial to take place.


Meanwhile, Morsi’s presidential advisors Haddad, Tahtawi, and Hamed are also accused of using their positions to leak secret documents related to national security to leaders of the Brotherhood abroad, heads of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, as a reward for carrying out terrorist operations and helping the Brotherhood attain power.     


Charges of terrorism and conspiring with foreign elements could carry the death penalty, or life imprisonment.


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