CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian police detained the youngest son of ousted former president Mohamed Mursi at his home on the outskirts of Cairo early on Wednesday, his brother and three security sources said.
Two security sources said Abdullah Mursi was arrested on charges of “spreading false news”, in connection with an interview he gave to the Associated Press news agency last week which focused on his father’s detention.
In the interview, 23-year-old Abdullah said his father’s health had deteriorated due to prison conditions and that the family was rarely allowed to visit.
Former president Mursi has been jailed since he was overthrown by the military in 2013, following mass protests against his rule.
An interior ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment on Abdullah’s reported detention and the public prosecutor has yet to issue any statement.
It comes amid a crackdown on dissent that has swept up Islamists and liberal activists and which rights groups say is the worst in modern Egyptian history.
Abdullah’s brother Ahmed told Reuters that police arrived at the Mursi home at 7 a.m. while the family were still asleep.
He said policemen broke into the villa, pointed their guns at the driver and the gardener while three officers in plainclothes woke up Abdullah.
“They went into Abdullah’s room and told him to get dressed and told him ‘We want you and we want your phone’,” Ahmed said.
“They didn’t present an arrest warrant or anything at all,” he added.
Last year, an appeals court ordered Mohamed Mursi jailed for 25 years in a final ruling on charges of spying for Qatar. He was already serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted over the killing of protesters during demonstrations in 2012.
Abdullah, the youngest of Mursi’s five children, served a one-year sentence after he was arrested in 2014 on charges of drug possession.
Another son, Osama, is also in prison and was among hundreds sentenced last month to death or jail in connection with protests against his father’s overthrow. He received a 10-year sentence which he plans to appeal against.
After Mursi’s ouster, then-army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unleashed a crackdown on the Brotherhood.
Sisi’s supporters say the president, who was re-elected in March, has been trying to combat an Islamist insurgency and restore order following years of chaos after “Arab Spring” demonstrations forced former president Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011.
(Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, Amina Ismail and Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Aidan Lewis; Editing by Richard Balmforth)