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Morsi Family Accuses Egypt's Military Of Kidnapping


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel. We begin this hour in Egypt. It's almost three weeks since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the military, and he has not been seen in public since. Today, his family accused the country's military chief of kidnapping him, and promised to take legal action.

OSAMA MORSI: (Foreign language spoken)

SIEGEL: That's former President Morsi's son, Osama, telling journalists that no one has heard from his father since he was overthrown, this as the country continues to face deep divisions that turned bloody yet again today, with several people dead in clashes in and around Cairo.

NPR's Leila Fadel joins us now from Cairo. And Leila, if you could start by telling us, does anyone know where former President Morsi is?

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, at this point, all we really know is that he's in military custody. He hasn't been charged with anything. It's unclear where he's being held. And the military and the foreign ministry have said he's being held for his own protection and being held under good conditions.

But his family is saying - and Osama said today in this press conference - we want him released. We feel this is kidnapping. This is illegal, and we plan to take legal measures against the defense minister, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, both domestically and internationally.

SIEGEL: But you're saying that the government, the interim government, is not saying that President Morsi is being held under arrest to face charges. The military isn't saying that, just he's being held for his own protection, you say.

FADEL: At this point, yes, we have heard rumors of investigations on things like espionage, on things like sowing chaos. But so far, we've seen no charges. Yesterday, there was quite a lot of confusion because the state newspaper basically ran a huge headline saying he's being charged on charges of espionage in a plot with the United States. But that was quickly rebuffed by the military and the prosecutors, which also begs the question who's in charge here of this detention? Who's in charge here when these charges come about?

SIEGEL: Well, as we've heard, the family intends to take legal action. Is there an independent judiciary they could appeal to?

FADEL: Again, at this point, it's unclear what they will do. Will they file a complaint with that same prosecutor that is also investigating Mohammed Morsi on charges? They gave no details on how that legal action would work, and if they do it internationally, again, how that would work.

SIEGEL: Leila, is there any sign of negotiations toward a deal between the new military-installed government and supporters of President Morsi, if not his family, members of his party or leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood?

FADEL: There have been some meetings between envoys from the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, but everything seems to be a nonstarter. The demand remains among the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of the president that the president be released and reinstated as the leader of Egypt. That has been a nonstarter for both sides.

And so what we're seeing are pressure in the streets - the Muslim Brotherhood, the supporters of the president - continuing street protests that sometimes turn bloody, as they have today, and also the military continuing what seems to be a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, as well as the roundup of supporters that they accuse of inciting violence.

SIEGEL: And in terms of international reaction to the overthrow of President Morsi, do foreign governments typically still regard him as the lawful president of Egypt?

FADEL: At this point, I think internationally it's - he's being seen as the former president. But there has been a call for his release, the European Union saying that that is among their priorities, that Mohammed Morsi, al6ong with other what they call political prisoners, be released. But, you know, as the Muslim Brotherhood says and supporters of the president say, they feel that the international community hasn't been vocal enough about the crackdown on their community.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Leila.

FADEL: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Leila Fadel speaking with us from Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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