Egypt Arrests 29 People on Suspicion of Spying for Turkey

Cars pass through a downtown street off Taalat Harb Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt. Photographer: VICTORIA HAZOU

Egyptian authorities have arrested 29 people on suspicion of spying for Turkey as part of a plot to restore the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization to power, the public prosecutor’s office said.

The General Intelligence Service uncovered a plan involving Turkish intelligence and security services and elements within the Muslim Brotherhood to undermine and disrupt Egypt’s state institutions, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday, without providing the names or nationalities of the suspects. Authorities have also accused those in custody, and others yet to be arrested, of illegal wiretapping, trading foreign currencies without a license and belonging to a terrorist organization, it said.

The arrests are the latest push against the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement which briefly held power under President Mohamed Mursi following the 2011 uprising against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. Mursi was ousted himself in 2013 in a military-backed uprising, and the government has since cracked down against the Brotherhood and its supporters.

The ousted president has been sentenced to life in an ‘espionage’ trial accusing him of spying for Qatar and leaking classified documents during his single year as president.

He has also been sentenced to death in a separate trial for his alleged role in prison breaks and attacks on police stations during the 2011 uprising, a life sentence and twenty-year jail term in two other trials.

Egyptian officials have repeatedly accused Turkey and Qatar of supporting the group, straining relations between the governments. Many of the Brotherhood’s top officials fled to Qatar and Turkey.