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The New Arab Staff

Egypt arrests top Muslim Brotherhood leader 'after seven years on the run'

Ezzat's case has reportedly been referred to Egypt's public prosecutor [Youtube]]

Date of publication: 28 August, 2020

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State-backed media celebrated news of his capture, describing him as a 'prize catch' and publishing images of a frail-looking Ezzat wearing a striped T-shirt.

Egyptian authorities on Friday arrested Mahmoud Ezzat, acting head of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, after over seven years on the run.

Ezzat, the organisation's supreme leader, was detained in a flat in the outskirts of Cairo, according to several media reports.

In a statement, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said his arrest was connected to charges of joining and leading a terrorist group and receiving illicit funds, Reuters reported.

The statement added that encrypted communications equipment had been seized during the arrest, claiming that Ezzat had been behind assassinations, attempted assassinations and bombings since 2013.

The country’s state-backed media celebrated news of his capture, describing him as a “prize catch”, publishing images of a frail-looking Ezzat wearing a striped T-shirt.

The organisation on Friday expressed fears for the safety of their leader, who suffers from age-related health issues.

In a statement seen by Arabi21, the Brotherhood said that any attempt to "confine" or "torture" before him before his case was referred to the public prosecutor would be akin to attempted "murder".

His case has since been referred to the public prosecutor, Arabi21 report.

Ezzat, seen as a hardliner within the Brotherhood, has evaded Egyptian authorities ever since the 2013 military ouster of the country's first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

An Egyptian criminal court recently sentenced Ezzat to 25 years in jail in absentia, along with seven others, after finding them guilty of "forming a terrorist cell to overthrow the ruling system and destroy the economy".

Ezzat has served numerous prison stints throughout his membership of the now-banned Islamist group.

Read also: Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader dies from 'medical negligence' in Egypt prison

First arrested during Gamal Abdel Nasser's presidency in 1965, he reportedly spent nine years behind bars.

He then rose through the party ranks, becoming a member of the group’s highest body in 1981. Held again by Egyptian authorities in 1993, he received a five-year sentence two years later for participating in the group's party elections.

Ezzat overtook leadership of the Brotherhood in 2013, following the incarceration of Mohamed Badie, who remains in a prison in Cairo.

The country’s authorities accuse the Brotherhood of promoting militancy and subversion, charges the group vehemently denies.

Since Morsi's overthrow, they have cracked down on the group's rank and file, jailing thousands of members and supporters.

They have also blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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