Egypt Charges Morsi with Conspiring with Hamas

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Audio Transcript:

Carol Hills: I'm Carol Hills in for Marco Werman, and this is The World. We still don't know were ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is being held. The military that staged a coup against Morsi and his democratically elected Islamist government won't say. But today we found out what Egypt's military backed authorities are charging Morsi with. He's accused of conspiring with a Palestinian militant movement Hamas, back in 2011. The announcement came on a day when large rival demonstrations filled the streets of Cairo with protesters, security personnel, and lots of tension. Borzou Daragahi is with The Financial Times, he's in Cairo. Borzou a little surprising that the government's now charging Morsi with conspiring with Hamas. What's going on there?

Borzou Daragahi: They had to charge with him something. The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement saying that these people who are being held on no charge whatsoever have to either be released or charged with a crime. He's been basically disappeared for 23 days now, supposedly being held by the military but there's no, I spoke to his son who told me that he doesn't know anything about where his father is. That he could be dead for all he knew. And so this has been putting a lot of pressure on the government here to do something with him.

Hills: What's he being charged with exactly?

Daragahi: The January 2011 revolution against Mubarak, after it started, authorities started rounding up members of the Muslim Brotherhood including Morsi. And he was put in prison. He later escaped from prison. He says he doesn't know who helped him get released from prison. The charge is that he sought help from Hamas in this prison break, and that he, in the process of breaking out of prison he killed soldiers, he damaged the prison, he damaged various police facilities. And you know, it's a little absurd. This is a diminutive, little, tubby 56 year old and the rap sheet makes him sound like Rambo.

Hills: Has there been any response by the Muslim Brotherhood?

Daragahi: They've been issuing statements saying that this is a ridiculous charge. I spoke to one Muslim Brotherhood leader who told me when former President Morsi applied to run for president last year he had to have his credentials vetted by a court, and there was no complaints about any kind of pending criminal case against him them. So why all of a sudden now? They also sort of mock the idea that he could have been collaborating with Hamas as he was rotting in one of Mubarek's infamous dungeons.

Hills: But overall does it change the mood? Is it sort of one more thing that is kind of rocking things in Cairo, or is it sort of same old, same old, and now we just have a few charges to illustrate what's really going on?

Daragahi: I think it's just one more thing that's gonna rock the boat for now. But I think it does have one little impact, is it sort of lessons the chances of any kind of reconciliation between the Islamists who support the government, the deposed government, and those who support the coup, or revolution, or whatever they want to call it.

Hills: So as you mentioned, Morsi is still missing, no one's seen or heard from him. I just find that incredible given the era of social media, that there hasn't been a peep, or a picture, or anything.

Daragahi: Yeah, it is rather extraordinary. He is a being held incommunicado. I think that one fear that the military has, and I think it's a legitimate fear, is that if they were to let him go he would start making public appeals to people in the Security Forces who might be opposed to what has happened here, the coup d'etat. And there's a fear that a real civil war would then start.

Hills: How dangerous is this situation? This has been dragging on now, well three weeks since Morsi has basically disappeared. No one knows where he is and today we get these charges by the military authorities. But are Egyptians getting impatient with this sort of stand off?

Daragahi: I think they are getting impatient, and many of them are in fact sort of crowding around the armed forces and the military because of their impatience. They nostalgically remember the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser, where supposedly things were better run, and they hope that a strong military man like General Adbul Fatah Al-Sisi can enforce order where there hasn't been any for two and a half years.

Hills: Borzou Daragahi is with The Financial Times, he's been speaking to us from Cairo. Thanks Borzou.

Daragahi: It's been a pleasure.