August 29, 2013 / 2:55 PM / 6 years ago

Egypt arrests senior Brotherhood politician El-Beltagi

Brotherhood leader Mohamed El Beltagy (L) shouts slogans with protesters supporting deposed Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi as they gather outside the Republican Guard barracks where Mursi is held in Cairo July 5, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian police captured senior Muslim Brotherhood official Mohamed El-Beltagi on Thursday, security sources said, as they pressed on with a crackdown that has put most of the Islamist group’s top leaders behind bars.

Beltagi, secretary-general of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, had urged Egyptians to join rallies against the military on Friday, in a recorded statement aired by the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera television news network this week.

Since deposing President Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood government on July 3, the military-backed authorities have killed hundreds of pro-Mursi protesters and arrested the bulk of the Brotherhood’s leaders in what they call a fight against terrorism.

The Brotherhood’s top leader, Mohamed Badie, and his deputies Khairat al-Shater and Rashad Bayoumy have already been put on trial on charges including incitement to violence in connection with a protest on July 8, in a prosecution they dismiss as politically-motivated.

The authorities had also ordered Beltagi’s arrest on July 10 on the same charges, which relate to a bid by authorities to break up a vigil by thousands of Mursi supporters demanding his reinstatement.

Security sources say 53 protesters died in the pre-dawn clash along with four members of the security forces. The army says “terrorists” provoked the shooting by attacking its troops.

Beltagi was a prominent speaker at a pro-Mursi protest camp at the Rabaa Adawiya mosque that was smashed by the security forces on August 14, on a day when more than 600 people died, most of them Brotherhood supporters shot by police.

Writing by Kevin Liffey; editing by Andrew Roche

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