The family of Strong Egypt Party head Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh denied claims by the Interior Ministry that the detained politician owns a farm where he knowingly permitted fugitives to hide out, in a statement at 11 pm on Wednesday.
The Interior Ministry announced two hours earlier on Wednesday that they had arrested six members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization from a farm in the Wadi Natroun district of the Nile Delta’s Beheira Governorate that is allegedly owned by Abouel Fotouh. The farm was used as a hideout and a place from which to “launch their offensive plan,” the ministry claimed, adding that two automatic weapons and a shotgun were found in the possession of the detained Brotherhood members.
The family denounced the ministry’s statement, and explained that Abouel Fotouh’s wife owns a piece of land in the Bassatin-Moghtaribin area in Beheira, which she has leased since 2013, and which the tenant has been solely responsible for since then.
The family knew of the presence of police forces on the land prior to the ministry’s claims, they said in their statement. They denied all accusations against Abouel Fotouh, which they asserted were “trumped up and invalid,” and added that, while they could not confirm or deny any accusations regarding the use of the land, they would provide any relevant documentation to investigating authorities if requested.
The Interior Ministry’s statement accused Abouel Fotouh of giving orders to two fugitive Muslim Brotherhood leaders to harbor six Brotherhood members at the farm as part of “a plan by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international organization and fugitive members of the group outside of Egypt to coordinate with leading Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, which aims to incite instability and confusion in Egypt, in coordination with acts of sabotage against important and vital state institutions to enable the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group to reemerge on the political scene.”
Security forces arrested Abouel Fotouh from his home in New Cairo on February 14, along with members of the party’s political bureau, who were released later that evening.
Abouel Fotouh conducted several interviews while he was in London, shortly before his arrest, including one with Al Jazeera, in which he criticized Sisi’s government and the electoral process, in particular the arrest of presidential contender and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan and the attack on former head of the Central Auditing Authority Hesham Geneina, who was set to be part of Anan’s campaign.
According to the ministry’s statement, National Security Agency investigations showed that Abouel Fotouh met with international Brotherhood members both abroad and in Egypt on several occasions. The politician was formerly a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, which he left in 2011.
State Security Prosecution remanded Abouel Fotouh in detention on February 15, pending investigations, for 15 days on charges of leading a terrorist group and disseminating false news, both inside the country and abroad, with the purpose of damaging the country’s interests. His political party concurrently announced the temporary suspension of its activity.
On February 8, police arrested deputy head of the Strong Egypt Party Mohamed al-Qassas, who was subsequently charged with joining and financing an outlawed group.