Court orders release of 10 senior Brotherhood members

Court orders release of 10 senior Brotherhood members

A court on Thursday ordered release of 10 prominent figures and businessmen belonging to Egypt”s most influential Islamic opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, after nearly 50 days in detention for holding secret meetings.

In some past cases, security officials have ignored similar court orders for releasing Brotherhood members and renewed their detentions, using emergency laws that give them wide powers.

Among the 10 was Essam el-Erian, a leading moderate in the Brotherhood who was detained in an Aug. 17 raid on his house while he held a meeting, a judicial official said. Fifteen others were also arrested, and prosecutors later claimed the meeting aimed at “reviving the group”s banned activities.”

Another in the group ordered freed was prominent Brotherhood businessman Nabeel Moqbel, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

On Wednesday, another court ordered the release of three leading Brotherhood members, including Mahmoud Ghozlan, a member of the group”s top decision-making body, the Guidance Bureau.

The Brotherhood, which has been banned since 1954, is Egypt”s largest opposition group. Its lawmakers, who run as independents, currently hold 88 seats in the 454-member lower house of the parliament.

Authorities have increasingly cracked down on the Islamist group since December, including sending 40 of its top financiers and businessmen to a military tribunal on charges of money laundering and supporting terrorism. They have also struck the group”s economic institutions and seized their assets.

The Brotherhood claim that the number of their detained members is at 600, including key leaders.