Egypt asked Britain to freeze Brotherhood funds: Official

CAIRO (AA) – The interim Egyptian government has called on its British counterpart to freeze funds of the Muslim Brotherhood and hand them over to Egypt, a senior Egyptian official unveiled Thursday.

“Egypt’s Justice Minister Neir Osman met with British ambassador James Watt last Sunday and asked him to talk to London to freeze the Brotherhood’s assets in Britain, which Cairo estimates to be at billions [of dollars], and return them to Egypt,” Assistant Minister of Justice for International Cooperation Adel Fahmi told Anadolu Agency.

According to Fahmi, Egypt based its request on a government decision in December to brand the Brotherhood, which propelled ousted president Mohamed Morsi to power in 2012, as a "terrorist" organization and court rulings convicting the group’s leaders on violence charges.

The British diplomat, for his part, said that court rulings and a thorough report on how these funds had gotten out of Egypt and their sources are necessary for the British government to consider such request, Fahmi added.

Since the army's July 3 ouster of Morsi – himself a Brotherhood leader – after only one year in office, the interim authorities have conducted a massive crackdown on the Islamist group and its supporters, which left hundreds dead and several thousand detained.

Most of the Brotherhood's top leaders currently face trial on violence-related charges. Morsi himself faces multiple charges including incitement to murder, jailbreak and espionage.

Egypt has remained in a state of upheaval since Morsi's overthrow, witnessing a string of deadly attacks on security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula, Cairo and the Nile Delta.

The interim government officially designated the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist organization" last December after accusing it of bombing a Nile Delta police headquarter and killing 16 people, mostly policemen.

The Brotherhood immediately condemned the bombing attack, which was claimed by a shadowy militant group calling itself Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.

The Egyptian government's decision to label the Brotherhood a terrorist group was emulated earlier this year by Saudi Arabia, which had been among the first countries to welcome Morsi's ouster by the army.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has recently ordered a review into the "ideology and activities" of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain with the ostensible aim of "understanding" the movement and its impact on British national security.

By Gawdat Eid

englishnews@aa.com.tr

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