Op­po­si­tion lead­ers ac­cused of trea­son

Austin American-Statesman - - NEWS - By Sarah El Deeb

CAIRO — Egypt’s chief pros­e­cu­tor or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion on Thurs­day into al­le­ga­tions that op­po­si­tion lead­ers com­mit­ted trea­son by in­cit­ing sup­port­ers to over­throw Is­lamist Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi.

The probe by a Mor­si­ap­pointed pros­e­cu­tor was launched a day af­ter the pres­i­dent called for a di­a­logue with the op­po­si­tion to heal rifts opened in the bit­ter fight over an Is­lamist-drafted con­sti­tu­tion just ap­proved in a ref­er­en­dum. The op­po­si­tion de­cried the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as a throw­back to Hosni Mubarak’s regime, when the law was used to smear and si­lence op­po­nents.

The probe was al­most cer­tain to sour the al­ready tense po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere in the coun­try.

The al­le­ga­tions were made ini­tially in a com­plaint by at least two lawyers sent to the chief pros­e­cu­tor ear­lier this month. They tar­geted op­po­si­tion lead­ers Mo­hammed ElBa­radei, a No­bel Peace lau­re­ate and former head of the U.N. nu­clear agency, former For­eign Min­is­ter Amr Moussa, and Hamdeen Sabahi. Both Moussa and Sabahi were pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates who com­peted against Morsi in the last elec­tion.

There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment by any of the three op­po­si­tion lead­ers named but the op­po­si­tion dis­missed the al­le­ga­tions.

Emad Abu Ghazi, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the op­po­si­tion party ElBa­radei heads, said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was “an in­di­ca­tion of a ten­dency to­ward a po­lice state and the at­tempt to elim­i­nate po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.” He said the ousted Mubarak regime dealt with the op­po­si­tion in the same way.

Mubarak jailed his op­po­nents, in­clud­ing lib­er­als and Is­lamists. In­ter­na­tional rights groups said their tri­als did not meet ba­sic stan­dards of fair­ness.

ElBa­radei was a lead­ing fig­ure be­hind the upris­ing against Mubarak and at one point, he was al­lied with the Brother­hood against the old regime.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion does not nec­es­sar­ily mean charges will be filed against the lead­ers. But it is un­usual for state pros­e­cu­tors to in­ves­ti­gate such broad charges against high-pro­file fig­ures.

Morsi, Egypt’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent, asked the op­po­si­tion Wed­nes­day to join a na­tional di­a­logue to heal rifts and move on af­ter a month of huge street protests against him and the con­sti­tu­tion drafted by his al­lies.

Some of the protests erupted into deadly vi­o­lence. On Dec. 5, an­tiMorsi demon­stra­tors stag­ing a sit-in out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace in Cairo were at­tacked by Morsi sup­port­ers. Fierce clashes en­sued that left 10 peo­ple dead.

The wave of protests be­gan af­ter Morsi’s Nov. 22 de­crees that gave him and the as­sem­bly writ­ing the con­sti­tu­tion im­mu­nity from ju­di­cial over­sight.

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