Egypt Freezes Assets of 14 Top Islamists

Nine Muslim Brotherhood leaders are among those whose assets have been frozen as part of an investigation against Islamists.

Elad Benari ,

Muslim Brotherhood supporters protest in fron
Muslim Brotherhood supporters protest in fron
AFP photo

Egypt’s public prosecutor on Sunday ordered the freezing of assets belonging to 14 top Islamists, as the U.S. dispatched its first senior official to Cairo since President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster.

AFP reported that U.S. Under Secretary of State Bill Burns will be in Egypt until Tuesday. The State Department said he would “underscore U.S. support for the Egyptian people.”

His trip comes amid growing pressure on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which is in disarray with key figures either detained, on the run or keeping a low profile.

It also comes amid international calls for the release of the detained Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president who was topped by the military on July 3.

Germany on Friday called for the release of Morsi, saying a "trusted institution" such as the International Committee of the Red Cross should be granted access to Morsi.

The United States later joined Germany, calling on the Egyptian military and interim leaders to free Morsi for the first time since he was detained over a week ago.

The asset freeze announced Sunday is part of an investigation ordered by public prosecutor Hisham Barakat which affects nine Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including the group’s general guide Mohamed Badie, and five Islamists from other groups including ex-militant faction Gamaa Islamiya, judicial sources told AFP.

It relates to four deadly incidents since Morsi’s overthrow, including clashes in Cairo last Monday in which dozens of people died.

Following the deadly clashes, the Muslim Brotherhood called for an “uprising” in Egypt. Last week, Egyptian prosecutors called for Badie’s arrest.

The order comes a day after prosecutors received criminal complaints against Morsi, Badie and other senior Islamists, with a view to launching a formal investigation.

The complaints include spying, incitement to violence and damaging the economy, although the prosecutor’s office did not say who made the allegations.

Morsi has not been seen in public since his ouster.

The Brotherhood has refused to join the new government headed by caretaker Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, who is pushing ahead with talks on forming his cabinet.

Meanwhile, in his first public comments since removing the Islamist leader, military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Sunday the army’s leaders made the move after urging Morsi to hold a referendum on his presidency, which he rejected.

“The armed forces, with all its personnel and its leaders, decided without reserve to be at the service of its people and to empower their free will,” he said in a statement quoted by AFP.