Political scientist and political Islam scholar Emad Shahin (Photo: Emad Shahin Facebook page)
A prominent Egyptian academic who has been charged with espionage in a case whose co-defendants include ousted president Mohamed Morsi, said on Wednesday that the allegations against him were "baseless and politically-motivated."
Emad Shahin, professor of public policy at the American University in Cairo, "categorically and emphatically" denied the allegations, which include espionage and supporting and leading the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement to which Morsi belongs.
In an online statement, Shahin said he was "shocked" to find out that his name was listed alongside 35 senior Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi, in a case that alleges the accused collaborated with the Palestinian Hamas movement to conduct a terrorist campaign in Egypt. Shahin, who has taught at Harvard and Notre Dame universities in the US, described the charges as "improbable" and "beyond preposterous."
He denied that he had ever been a member of or given material support to the Brotherhood, claiming that his "true offence" was being a vocal critic of developments in Egypt since the ouster of Morsi last July.
The political scientist is not the first scholar to be charged with offences in recent weeks. Last week, liberal political scientist and former lawmaker Amr Hamzawy, who had been critical of Islamist rule but also opposes military rule, was ordered to stand trial for insulting the judiciary - alongside Morsi and 24 others - because he criticized a ruling against a group of foreign non-governmental organisations.
It was the fourth case brought against Morsi who was ousted last July after mass protests against his turbulent rule, and is facing separate trials for murder and a jailbreak during the 2011 revolution.
The scholar, who is currently in Washington for a conference, dismissed allegations that he is "at large," claiming that he had never been subpoenaed, banned from travel or put on a watch list.
"I am neither at large nor was I unwilling to appear before any interrogator had I received a formal subpoena and guarantees for fair proceedings, due-process of law, and a fair trial."
Shahin, who has been living in Egypt since 2011, said he has maintained a public presence and appeared as an analyst on TV in recent months.
Egyptian authorities have mounted a sustained crackdown on supporters of Morsi and his Brotherhood group since his ouster. Thousands have been arrested and most of the group's top leaders are in custody over charges including inciting violence.
But recent arrests of non-Islamist activists, including prominent figures associated with the 2011 revolution, has led to fears of a broader crackdown on public dissent.