CAIRO – The family of ousted President Mohammed Morsi furiously denounced the military Monday, accusing it of “kidnapping” him, and European diplomats urged that Egypt’s first freely elected leader be released after being held incommunicado for nearly three weeks since being deposed by the army.
Morsi was detained July 3, when Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the army chief, announced his removal. He is held at an undisclosed location. Government officials have said only that he is safe, is well-cared for and is being held for his own protection.
Two of Morsi’s children lashed out at the military over his detention, saying his family has not been permitted to see him.
“What happened is a crime of kidnapping,” one of his sons, Osama, told a Cairo news conference. “I can’t find any legal means to have access to him.”
The fate of Morsi, who has been held without charge, has become a focus of the political battle between his Muslim Brotherhood and the new military-backed government.
The Brotherhood has tried to use Morsi’s detention to rally the country to its side, hoping to restore its badly damaged popularity. The interim government, in turn, appears in part to be using it to pressure his supporters into backing down from their protests demanding his reinstatement.
So far, however, the outcry over Morsi’s detention seems to have gained little traction beyond the president’s supporters.
The military fears that Morsi’s release “would only increase protests and make them more aggressive,” he told the Associated Press. At least five other prominent Brotherhood members have also been detained.
The Brotherhood laid out a plan Monday that was little changed from what Morsi proposed in his final days in office. It said Morsi must first be reinstated along with the upper house of parliament and the suspended constitution, followed by new parliament elections that would start a process for amending the constitution, and then a “national dialogue” could be held.
Interim President Adly Mansour repeated calls for reconciliation in a nationally televised speech Monday evening. “We … want to turn a new page in the nation’s book,” he said. “No contempt, no hatred, no divisions and no collisions.”