Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered the detention of 29 people suspected of espionage on behalf of Turkey, which is under the despotic rule of Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and joining a terrorist organization, state news agency MENA reported on Wednesday.
Top prosecutor Nabil Sadek ordered the detention of 29 suspects for 15 days for charges of espionage on behalf of Turkey, membership of a terrorist organization, money laundering, and illegal currency transactions on the black market.
According to the results of an investigation by the General Intelligence Services, the group has been recording phone calls and passing information to Turkish intelligence as part of a plan to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power in Egypt, MENA said.
A report by Egypt Independent said that investigations found that conspirators took two main steps to achieve their objectives. First, they recorded calls and collected intelligence information, including monitoring the opinions of various social groups and classes in Egypt.
The information was then used by Turkish intelligence to recruit agents to commit hostile acts against the Egyptian state, according to the findings of the investigation. Muslim Brotherhood members, both inside and outside of Egypt, are found to have taken part in the scheme.
The second step was deliberately circulating false information and rumors through Egyptian media outlets, seeking to negatively impact public opinion against state institutions.
After prosecutors gave permission, calls and meetings carried out by suspects have been recorded over the past few months. The Supreme State Security Prosecutors raided the houses of suspects, seizing highly-technical electronic devices they are believed to have used. The nationalities of the suspects were not specified. They are also accused of money laundering and trading currency without a license.
Ties between Ankara and Cairo have been strained since the army ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood following mass protests against his rule in 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood has close ties with Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and many of its members have fled to Turkey since the group’s activities were banned in Egypt.
Following Mursi’s ouster, Egypt branded the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation and most of its senior members have been arrested, driven into exile or underground. Egyptian security forces cracked down on all opposition and dissenters. Thousands have been arrested with rights groups estimating 60,000 political detainees. Last month, President Sisi claimed that there were “no political prisoners” in Egypt.
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. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful organization and has condemned the crackdown.