Egypt court puts Morsi on trial over espionage charges
A court in Egypt is trying the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, on charges of endangering national security by leaking state secrets to Qatar.
On Sunday, the Cairo criminal court tried Morsi and 10 others on charges of espionage and leaking classified documents to the Qatari intelligence and Al-Jazeera news network.
The documents that the court accuses Morsi of leaking to Qatar allegedly include information on Egypt’s army, military dispositions and armaments, as well as additional information on the country’s domestic and foreign policies.
Last September, Attorney General Hesham Barakat ordered the defendants to be referred to the court following investigations by the Supreme State Security Prosecution.
Morsi on Sunday described his trial as a “farce,” prompting presiding judge Mohamed Fahmi to threaten filing a separate lawsuit against him for insulting the court.
“This court does not represent anything to me,” Morsi said.
“What happened on July 3 was a military coup and its leader is the one who should be behind bars,” he added in reference to his July 2013 military ouster by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Among the defendants are the former head of Morsi’s office, Ahmed Abdel-Ati, and secretary Ameen al-Serafi, along with journalists from Arabic-language Al Jazeera news network and Muslim Brotherhood’s Misr 25 satellite channel. They will be sentenced to death if found guilty.
The Egyptian government has been cracking down on any opposition since Morsi was ousted. Sisi has been accused of leading the suppression of Morsi supporters, as hundreds of them have been killed in clashes with Egyptian security forces over the past year.
Rights groups say the army’s crackdown on the supporters of Morsi has led to the deaths of over 1,400 people and the arrest of 22,000 others, including some 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.