Egyptian police have detained the youngest son of overthrown former President Mohamed Morsi from his home on the outskirts of Cairo on Wednesday, then released him on bail hours later, his family and security sources said.
Attorney General Nabil Sadek issued a brief statement late Wednesday ordering the release on bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($280) on the charges after questioning by Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution.
Abdullah Morsi was taken into custody by security personnel for questioning along with his ID and mobile phone, but when he was released his phone was not returned, his brother Ahmed said.
Two security sources said Abdullah was arrested on charges of “spreading false news”, in connection with an interview he gave to the Associated Press (AP) news agency last week that focused on his father’s detention.
The former president, a senior figure in the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, has been jailed and held in solitary confinement since the army, led by then-general and now-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, overthrew him in 2013, following mass protests against his rule.
Ahmed told Reuters news agency the police officers did not present a warrant for his brother’s arrest and said they were taking Abdullah for questioning.
Abdullah is the youngest of Morsi’s five children and was sentenced to a year in jail in 2015 for alleged drug possession.
Another son, Osama, is also in prison and was among hundreds recently sentenced in connection with protests against Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow.
Abdullah’s latest arrest comes just days after he told AP in an interview that his father’s health had deteriorated due to prison conditions and that the family was rarely allowed to visit.
Abdullah said he was seeking more visitation rights and better healthcare for his ailing father.
In a report published earlier this year, a panel of British MPs and lawyers said Morsi is being imprisoned in standards lower than those sanctioned by international law, which could lead to an early death.
Since his removal, the former president has been tried in several different cases.
In April 2015, he was sentenced to 20 years on charges of ordering the arrest and torture of protesters in clashes outside the presidential palace in 2012.
In September 2016, Morsi was sentenced to another 25 years in prison on charges of passing intelligence to Qatar. And in December 2017, he was also sentenced to three years on charges of insulting the judiciary.
After Morsi’s 2013 removal, el-Sisi unleashed a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood.
El-Sisi’s supporters say the president, who was re-elected in March, has been trying to combat an Islamist insurgency and restore order following years of chaos after the Arab Spring demonstrations forced former president Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011.