Egypt Charges Ousted President Morsi With Leaking State Secrets to Qatar

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Ousted President Mohammed Morsi during his detention at an undisclosed facility in Egypt following his ouster. Image released Nov. 3, 2013 by El-Watan newspaper.Credit: AP

Egypt charged ousted president Mohamed Morsi and nine others on Saturday with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar, furthering a state crackdown on his outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Relations between Qatar, a Gulf Arab state, and Egypt have been icy since July 2013, when Egypt's then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi toppled Morsi after protests against his rule.

Qatar had supported Morsi, who is already in jail along with thousands of Brotherhood members, many of whom have been sentenced to death on separate charges.

Security sources had said last month that Egypt was investigating Morsi in connection with documents they said were leaked to Qatar and its satellite news channel Al Jazeera.

The Egyptian public prosecutor's office said on Saturday its secret investigation had unearthed enough evidence of espionage to charge Morsi and nine others in a criminal court.

"The inquiries ... exposed humiliating facts and the extent of the largest conspiracy and treason carried out by the terrorist Brotherhood organization against the nation through a network of spies," it said in a three-page statement.

The public prosecutor said Morsi's aides were involved in leaking to Qatari intelligence and Al Jazeera, documents which exposed the location of and weapons held by the Egyptian armed forces and detailed the country's foreign and domestic policies.

The Qatari Foreign Ministry in Doha did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the accusations. Al Jazeera, which has been banned from Egypt, has denied any bias in reporting events there or any role in aiding the Brotherhood.

It was not immediately possible to obtain a Brotherhood comment as most of the group's leaders are in Egyptian jails.

While Sissi has gone on to election as president, Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders as well as the leading lights of the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, many of them secular activists, now languish in jail.

Hopes of democratic change inspired by the revolt in the most populous Arab country have since faded.

Sissi promised during his election campaign that the Muslim Brotherhood would cease to exist under his rule.

Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters during protests against Morsi's ouster and thousands of others have since been jailed.

Egypt's oldest Islamist movement, once among Egypt's most formidable political forces, has been branded a terrorist group and its assets have been seized by the state. The Brotherhood formally renounced violence as a means of political change decades ago and has denied any role in more recent bloodshed.

The secretary, his daughter and the air steward

In a detailed statement, the prosecutor said his inquiry had found that Morsi's secretary Amin al-Srifi abused his position to slip documents from Egypt's security agencies to Jordanian Al Jazeera journalist Alaa Sabalan via his own daughter Karima and four other intermediaries.

It said Sabalan later flew to Doha and met with Al Jazeera news editor Ibrahim Hilal and a senior Qatari intelligence officer and a deal was reached for Mursi's aides to hand over the documents in return for $1 million.

It added that part of that sum was paid after documents were handed over at Doha airport by an Egyptair steward who acted as a go-between. Subsequent interrogations had also linked Morsi and his office manager Ahmed Abdelatti to the case, it said.

Egypt's public prosecutor charged Morsi and his two aides, Abdelatti and Srifi, as well as seven others including Sabalan and the air steward in the case. Three of the accused, including Sabalan and senior Jazeera editor Hilal, are at large and the prosecutor called for their arrest pending trial.

Egypt's rulers are deeply suspicious of Qatar and anyone who supports the Brotherhood. Egyptian authorities have long since closed down the Al Jazeera office in Cairo.

Earlier this year, an Egyptian court jailed three Al Jazeera journalists for up to 10 years on charges of aiding "a terrorist group" by broadcasting misinformation that harmed national security. Al Jazeera has said the charges are baseless.

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