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Feb 20, 11:19 AM EST

Egypt adds detained Islamist politician to terror list


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CAIRO (AP) -- An Egyptian court on Tuesday added a detained Islamist politician to a list of wanted "terrorists" over his alleged links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

The South Cairo Criminal Court added Abdel-Monaem Abul Fetouh and 15 others to the list, which includes deposed President Mohamed Morsi, Brotherhood spiritual guide Mohammed Badie and other group leaders.

For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood was Egypt's best-organized opposition movement. It won a series of free elections after the 2011 uprising, culminating in Morsi's election in 2012. But his rule proved divisive, and a year later the military overthrew him and launched a crackdown on his supporters.

The government later declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group.

Abul Fetouh, 66, was a longtime Brotherhood member, but quit the group in 2011 to run for president the following year. Since Morsi's overthrow, pro-government media have insisted Abul Fetouh's true sympathies are still with the Brotherhood.

He was arrested earlier this month, shortly after his return from a trip to London. He is the leader of the Strong Egypt party, whose deputy, Mohammed el-Kassas, was also detained over alleged links to the Brotherhood.

Abul Fetouh's arrest was the latest in a series of high-profile detentions ahead of the March 26-28 presidential election.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi faces no serious competition, after a number of candidates withdrew or were arrested. The only other candidate allowed to run is a little-known politician who supports el-Sissi.

Also on Tuesday, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced 20 people to 10 years in prison on charges of attacking a church during the unrest that followed Morsi's ouster. The court sentenced two minor defendants to three years in prison over the same charges, which included setting fire to a church.

An international rights group meanwhile urged Egyptian authorities to reveal the whereabouts of two journalists it said were "forcibly disappeared" on Feb. 4 on their way to work in Cairo.

EuroMed Rights said in a Tuesday statement that Moustafa el-Asar and Hassan el-Banna were brought before state security prosecutors two weeks after they went missing, but that their place of detention remains unknown.

Journalists have been regularly detained and prosecuted in Egypt under el-Sissi. Reporters Without Borders ranked Egypt 161st out of 180 countries in its 2017 Press Freedom Index.

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