Cairo: Egypt announced a criminal investigation on Saturday against deposed Islamist president Mohammad Mursi, 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 issued a statement saying it had received complaints against Mursi, eight other named Islamist figures including top Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badie, and others it did not identify.
The complaints 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 before making public statements.
Badie and several other Brotherhood officials already face charges for inciting violence that were announced earlier this week, but most of them have not been arrested.
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 Jihad Al Haddad said the charges were absurd and that it was the authorities themselves that 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.