CAIRO — Prosecutors Sunday accused deposed president Mohammed Morsi of leaking state secrets to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as part of a plot to destabilize Egypt, at the second hearing of his trial for espionage.
The trial, one of three that are under way against Morsi, is part of a relentless government crackdown targeting him and his Muslim Brotherhood movement since his ouster by the army in July.
Prosecutors accuse Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, of conspiring with foreign powers, Palestinian militant movement Hamas and Shiite Iran to destabilize Egypt.
On Sunday, the second hearing since the trial opened on February 16, they detailed the charges against Morsi and his co-defendants.
They were specifically accused of “delivering to a foreign country… national defense secrets and providing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards with security reports in order to destabilize the security and stability of the country”.
The statement read in court did not identify the “foreign country”.
But prosecutors said Morsi and the defendants carried out espionage activities on behalf of the “international Muslim Brotherhood organisation and Hamas with an aim to perpetrate terror attacks in the country in order to spread chaos and topple the state” from 2005 to August 2013.
The case’s chief prosecutor, Tamer el-Firgani, said Morsi, his aides and senior Brotherhood members had “handed over secrets to foreign countries, among them national defense secrets, and handed over a number of security reports to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in order to destabilize the country’s security and stability.”
El-Firgani, divulging details of the charges, said national security reports meant for only Morsi to see were emailed to some of these foreign militant groups. One report, he said, was sent to the Iranians about the activities of Shiite Muslims in Egypt. Iran is mostly Shiite.
Morsi started off his time in office with repeated tirades against Iran over its support to Syrian President Bashar Assad, but soon warmed up to the Islamic Republic, allowing its tourists to come to Egypt for the first time in decades and founding a four-nation contact group on the Syrian war that included Iran.
During Morsi’s one year presidency, ties also flourished between Cairo and Hamas, a Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood which rules neighboring Gaza.
But since July, Egypt’s military-installed government has accused Hamas of backing Morsi and his Brotherhood, and carrying out terrorist attacks inside the country.
Morsi and his co-defendants were present at the hearing without their defense team, which had walked out of the previous hearing in protest over the fact that the defendants were being held in a glass sound-proof cage. Defense lawyers appointed by the bar association were present in their place.
The cage was introduced after Morsi and his co-defendants interrupted the proceedings of other court cases by talking over the judge and chanting slogans. The cage is fitted to give the judge sole control over whether the defendants can be heard or not when speaking.
But this did not stop defendants including Brotherhood supreme guide Mohammed Badie, his deputy Khairat el-Shater and other Islamist leaders from shouting and rejecting the accusations against them.
“Void, void,” they shouted when the judge asked them if they accepted the charges, an AFP correspondent said.
If found guilty, the defendants could face the death penalty.
Most of the defendants were also accused of moving armed groups in and out of Egypt in January 2011, in a bid to attack army and police installations and prisons to facilitate the escape of inmates.
Also on Sunday the defendants were represented by a new team of 10 defense lawyers appointed by the lawyers’ union, to replace the original team that withdrew from the case.
The trial was adjourned to February 27.
Morsi is already on trial for the killing of protesters during his presidency and a jailbreak during the 2011 uprising that ousted his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, also faces trial for “insulting the judiciary”. A date for that has yet to be set.