The acting leader of Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested on Friday after seven years of speculations about his whereabouts, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior announced.
According to a ministry statement cited by a number of local media, Mahmoud Ezzat was arrested from a residential flat in the New Cairo neighborhood east of the capital “after monitoring his movement for a while”.
During their search of the flat, security forces found “a number of computers, mobile phones with encrypted programs to secure its communications and management of the leaders and members of the organization inside and outside the country,” the statement read.
Ezzat is among several Brotherhood leaders and anti-government protesters who have been sentenced to the death penalty since 2013.
He is facing multiple death sentences issued in absentia, as well as life imprisonment on a range of charges including espionage and leadership in an unlawful group. According to Egyptian law, those sentenced in absentia stand a retrial once arrested.
It remains unclear who will serve as the acting Brotherhood leader following Ezzat, and the group has yet to comment on the arrest.
Ezzat, 76, has been serving as the acting general guide (chairman) of the Brotherhood since the arrest of the group’s most senior leader, Mohamed Badie, following the military coup of 2013 led by then Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Sisi, who is now president of the country, ousted his democratically elected predecessor, Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi, in July 2013. Since then, the former army general has led a deadly crackdown on Brotherhood leaders and supporters, as well as secular opposition groups who criticize his rule.
Human Rights Watch has estimated that over 60,000 political prisoners languish in jails since Sisi became president in 2014, while many others have been living in self-imposed exile fearing reprisals at home.
Source: Middle East Eye