Cairo. Egyptian security forces have escalated their crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim
Brotherhood by arresting its top leader, state media has reported. Mohamed Badie, 70, the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood, was detained on Tuesday at a residential flat in Nasr City in northeast Cairo, the state news agency said.
“That was after information came to the security apparatus locating his place of hiding,” it said.
ONTV, a private, pro-military satellite channel, aired footage purporting to show Badie upon his detention. The channel said that Badie was on his way to prison under tight security, quoting security sources.
Badie and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater, who is in custody, will go on trial later this month for their alleged role in the killing of eight protesters outside the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters in June.
Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Cairo, said the arrest was “incredibly significant.”
“The arrest of the spiritual leader was always seen as a red line, but the military-led government is clearly ignoring that.”
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Cairo, said Badie had been seen in public only once since Morsi was overthrown and that, with his arrest, most of the Brotherhood’s leadership are now in the custody of the military-led government.
“He made an appearance on stage at the sit-in protest at Rabaa Mosque,” our correspondent said. “That was the only time anybody seen him. He’s been in hiding since then.”
The Facebook page of the Interior Ministry also displayed pictures of Badie with a caption confirming his arrest.
“Carrying out the decisions of the public prosecutor to arrest and bring forward the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, and through collected information and observation of movements it was possible for the criminal search apparatus under the direction of Cairo’s security [services] to arrest him,” the caption said.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Al Masry Al Youm, a local newspaper, that Badie had been arrested in the early hours of Tuesday. A son of Badie was killed in Cairo during last week’s “Day of Rage” protests against the army-backed government and the crackdown on its opponents. Ammar Badie, 38, died of a bullet wound sustained while taking part in protests in the city’s Ramses Square,