Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate who quit the Egyptian cabinet in protest over last week’s bloodshed, faces being hauled before the courts after being accused of a “betrayal of trust”.
Mr ElBaradei was a co-leader of the National Salvation Front (NSF), a prominent coalition of liberal and secular forces which joined the nationwide demonstrations against the deposed President Mohamed Morsi.
The former head of the UN nuclear agency, Mr ElBaradei – a politician supported by figures within the liberal elite but unloved among many ordinary Egyptians – initially endorsed the popular coup that swept Mr Morsi from power on 3 July.
Mr ElBaradei even went so far as saying the military intervention had “relaunched” the revolution that toppled Mr Mubarak in February 2011.
But a little over a month later, his political fortunes drastically changed. On 14 August, following the massacre of several hundred Islamists by armed police in eastern Cairo, he resigned as Vice-President.
News about the court case came as Egypt’s authorities announced the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide yesterday. In yet another blow to the 85-year-old Islamist organisation, Mohamed Badie was seized by police at an apartment in the east Cairo district of Nasr City. He faces allegations of murder and inciting violence.
The case against him will be heard in a Cairo court next month and is being brought by Sayyed Ateeq, an Egyptian law professor, according to judicial sources who spoke to Reuters. “He was appointed in his capacity as a representative of the NSF and the majority of the people who signed the Tamarod declaration,” Mr Ateeq told Reuters, referring to the grassroots petition movement that had called for Mr Morsi to resign.
Mr Ateeq said Mr ElBaradei – who left Egypt earlier this week and travelled to Europe – could face three years in prison if found guilty. But judicial sources said the maximum sentence is a fine and suspended jail term.
Khaled Dawoud, a former spokesman for the NSF who quit the organisation after its members praised the police crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood last week, said: “If this case against ElBaradei is true then it is a major escalation showing that things are getting very polarised.
“You’re either on this side or on that side. Things took a very different turn from what someone like myself expected.”
Shin Bet sets up unit to protect Sinai Peninsula
Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, has formed a new unit to combat what the Jewish state believes is an increased threat from Islamic terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula.
The Shin Bet believes that there are now at least 15 groups operating in the Sinai, four of which present a risk to Israeli army units on the border and threaten to fire rockets into Israel.
Sinai – which was captured and occupied by Israel in 1967 before being handed back to Egypt in 1982 – has become increasingly lawless since the Egyptian uprising. Under the peace deal, it was supposed to be largely demilitarised, but Israel has acquiesced to the Egyptian military presence.