Egypt's former chief-of-staff to be released after detention

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 10, 2013 5:42 PM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's prosecutor general approved the release of ousted President Mohamed Mursi's former chief of staff, who was detained last month over accusations of inciting the detention, torture and interrogation of protesters in 2012, judicial sources said.

The release of Rifaa El-Tahtawy comes as Egypt's interim government cracks down on Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood group, which is blamed for inciting violence after the army, prompted by mass protests, ousted Mursi on July 3.

El-Tahtawi, a former spokesman of Egypt's highest religious authority al-Azhar, was detained because of connections to violent clashes outside the presidential palace last December in which about a dozen people were killed after Mursi enraged protesters' with a decree expanding his powers.

El-Tahtawi is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The prosecution investigating the case decided to release him and consider him a witness in the case. Today the general prosecutor approved the decision," the judicial source at the General Prosecution told Reuters.

On September 1 a state prosecutor charged Mursi and 14 other Brotherhood members with "committing acts of violence, and inciting killing and thuggery" in the same case, considered to be one of the most violent episodes of Mursi's presidency.

Tens of thousands gathered outside the presidency to demonstrate against Mursi's decree and a divisive, Islamist-tinged constitution that he planned to put to a referendum.

The Brotherhood's leaders called on members to rally to his defense, some of whom are now accused of mobilizing their followers to forcibly disperse the protesters after the security forces rejected Mursi's orders to do so.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Bill Trott)