Egyptian authorities detained the youngest son of jailed former president Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday without giving a reason, the family said, adding that they fear he’ll be held indefinitely.
Ahmed Morsi said three state security men accompanied by a special forces officer took his brother Abdullah, along with his ID and mobile phone, from the family house outside Cairo early Wednesday, saying he would be released around noon. Both are sons of the jailed former president.
Abdullah told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he was seeking more visitation rights and better health care for his ailing father, who has been held in solitary confinement since the army, led by then-general and now President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, overthrew him in 2013.
“They came into the house and said he should get dressed and that they were taking him but he would be back in five hours,” Ahmed said by telephone. Hours after sunset however, the family still had no word on his whereabouts. The Interior Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
Abdullah, a 25-year-old business student, has been waiting outside Cairo’s notorious Tora prison for hours once a month to leave money for food and necessities for his father, hoping for a chance to see him. But almost every time for five years he has been denied. The family says it has only seen Morsi three times since his arrest, in prison visits closely monitored by police officers.
The family says the 67-year-old Morsi is suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure that have been exacerbated by harsh conditions, including sleeping on the floor and years of isolation that have at times put him in a diabetic coma. Abdullah said Morsi has “no idea what’s going on in the country since he was arrested, they don’t allow him newspapers,” any access to news, or even a pen to write with.
With Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group blacklisted and the family banned from travel, a campaign to improve Morsi’s conditions has been run from London, where several prominent British politicians have backed it.
During his tumultuous year in office, Morsi’s opponents accused the Brotherhood of trying to use election victories to dominate the state. Morsi cracked down at times on protesters and used executive powers to force through policies, but never managed to control the levers of power, facing opposition in the courts and among police. In the end, his opponents organized mass demonstrations against his rule, and it was against this backdrop that el-Sissi overthrew him.
Since then, the government has largely crushed the Brotherhood with a heavy crackdown. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have been arrested since 2013, the vast majority of them accused of working with or for the group, says the U.S.-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.