Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will stand trial with 35 Islamists on charges that they conspired with foreign organizations to commit terrorist acts in Egypt, the country’s public prosecutor said Wednesday.
Morsi will face trial for “collaborating with foreign states to commit terrorist acts in Egypt, revealing defense secrets to foreign countries, funding terrorists and military training to achieve the purposes of the international organization of the Brotherhood,” the official Middle East News Agency reported.
The groups, according to the prosecution’s investigation, included the Palestinian group Hamas and the militant Lebanese Hezbollah movement, MENA reported.
Prosecutors claimed the Brotherhood prepared a terrorist plot that involved smuggling weapons into the country and smuggling its own members into the Gaza Strip to receive military training from Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. They also alleged that Morsi’s senior presidential aides revealed state secrets by emails to Brotherhood members abroad, as well as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Revolutionary Guard.
No trial date has been set in the new case. Morsi’s trial for inciting violence during a protest began in early November, and is set to resume in January. The new charges against him, however, are more serious and could carry the death penalty.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al-Haddad called all the charges “laughable” before his arrest this fall. Other Muslim Brotherhood officials, who fled to London to avoid arrest, told BuzzFeed by phone that the state prosecutor’s office was attempting “to make an example of Morsi by announcing the most ludicrous charges against him.”
Brotherhood supporters also accused the Egyptian prosecutors of trying to further discredit Morsi and the Brotherhood ahead of the country’s constitutional referendum next month. On Wednesday, the Brotherhood alliance called for supporters to boycott the referendum, even as Egyptian officials urged the public to vote for the “All Egyptians” constitution.
Egyptian newspapers have previously reported that Morsi was under investigation for colluding with Palestinian groups to storm police stations and jails. Morsi, along with several other prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders, was freed during a breakout at a Cairo prison in January 2011.
Hamas officials have said that they did not play a part in the prison break, and denied that they held any discussions with Morsi or his Muslim Brotherhood Movement to commit terrorist acts in Egypt.
Hamas, which began as a Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, benefitted from Morsi’s yearlong rule in Egypt. Under the Brotherhood, Gaza enjoyed an easing of restrictions and visits by high-level diplomatic missions that entered Gaza through the Rafah-crossing with Egypt.
Egyptian’s who protested against Morsi’s rule accused him of sending funds and resources to Gaza, while neglecting the Egyptian people. Since Morsi’s downfall, Egypt’s military has waged a punishing campaign to shut down the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, and have closed the border between the two countries for long stretches of time.