United States calls on Egyptian army to release Morsi

AFP, Ahram Online, Friday 12 Jul 2013

State department spokesperson says US agrees with Germany's appeal for the release of Mohamed Morsi, reveals ambassador met with new Egyptian president


The United States on Friday called on the Egyptian military and interim leaders to free deposed president Mohamed Morsi for the first time since he was detained over a week ago.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States agreed with Germany's earlier appeal for Morsi to be released and was "publicly" making the same request.

Morsi has been held in a "safe place," according to the interim leaders, and has not been seen in public since his ouster July 3.

Psaki said that US officials had been in regular contact with all sectors of Egyptian society.

But in past days, while condemning arbitrary arrests, she had refused to say whether the US administration believed Morsi should be freed.

Psaki revealed that US ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, had met with Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour.

Psaki also says the latest wave of arrests of Islamists in Egypt is "politically motivated, calling on authorities to treat the detainees well.

A large number of Brotherhood and Islamist figures have been detained in the wake of Morsi's ouster, including Brotherhood's second-man Khairat El-Shater and former Salafist presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail. Over 200 of Morsi's supporters have also been detained and interrogated over Monday's clashes at the republican guard headquarters, which saw over 50 killed.

US position 'undetermined,' 'developing'

On 3 June General Commander Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi removed Morsi from his post as president after millions took the streets in Egypt demanding early presidential elections. Head of the High Constitutional Court Adly Mansour was appointed as interim president for the transition period. Mansour issued a constitutional declaration outlining the new roadmap.

Immediately after the ousting of President Morsi, President Obama expressed concern and left the door open for the US to call the move a "military coup."

However, as Egypt moved ahead with the formation of a new transitional government, and under pressure from some in his own congress, the US began to strike a more conciliatory tone.

On Wednesday, the US state department spokesperson Jen Psaki said "It's clear that the Egyptian people have spoken,", when asked whether Washington still considered Morsi the legitimate president.

"There's an interim government in place... this is leading the path to democracy, we are hopeful. And we are in touch with a range of actors. But obviously, he is no longer in his acting position."

Challenged about the fact that, before his ouster, Egypt already had a democratically elected government, Psaki replied: "It wasn't a democratic rule. That's the whole point."

These Wednesday statements marked a shift in US stand from the 30 June protests and the ouster of Mohamed Morsi.

Upon Morsi’s ouster, Psaki said that the US is 'very concerned' about the situation in Egypt. The situation in Egypt remains fluid, and the United States cannot confirm whether a military coup is underway, she said.

US lawmakers are to vote next week on whether what happened in Egypt is a “Coup”. The United States currently sends $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid to Egypt each year, but the military coup label would cut off the flow under a US law dating to the 1980s.

Germany takes lead

Earlier on Friday, Germany called for the release of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi amid mounting tensions between supporters and opponents over his overthrow.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of Morsi have called separate rallies across Cairo Friday amid fears of further bloodshed in the Arab world's most populous country.

"We call for an end to the restrictions on Mr Morsi's whereabouts," a German foreign ministry spokesman told reporters.

The German ministry spokesman said a "trusted institution" such as the International Committee of the Red Cross should be granted access to Morsi.

Morsi is currently being held in a "safe place, for his safety" and has not yet been charged with anything, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry, but military and judicial sources say he may eventually face charges.

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