[JURIST] Five international Muslim Brotherhood (MB) [party website; JURIST news archive] members will be tried [MB press release] in an Egyptian criminal court on charges of money laundering, Attorney General Abdul Magid Mahmoud announced Wednesday. The members, including Muslim Brotherhood International Secretary General Ibrahim Munir, were referred to the Supreme State Security Emergency Court for trial. The five members have been accused of laundering money [AFP report] through a British-based Islamic charity in order to fund the MB movement, which has been banned in Egypt [JURIST news archive]. In a statement, MB media spokesman Mohamed Morsy said the charges are a move by the Egyptian government to escalate the tense relationship between the two:
At a time when all opposition factors in Egypt including the MB are uniting in the call for the elimination of the oppressive 'Emergency Law', the ruling regime has once again demonstrated its inability to interact with its people and practice democracy. We, the MB, will continue the path of promoting peace and will continue calling for reform through the regulatory and legitimate constitutional channels in which we have always adhered to. None of the ruling regime's measures will deter us.
The Egyptian government has often used the country's emergency laws [FIDH backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to arrest and indefinitely detain individuals it considered a threat to state security.
Earlier this month, an Egyptian criminal court ordered 16 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were arrested in February and charged with plotting to overthrow the Egyptian government, released on bail [JURIST report]. In the past, Egypt has also used the emergency laws extensively against other opposition parties. In July, the trial of 26 individuals with alleged ties to Hezbollah was transferred to a court [JURIST report] established under the emergency laws. In February 2009, a military court utilized the laws during a trial in which it sentenced [JURIST report] opposition leader Magdy Ahmed Hussein to two years in prison. The emergency laws have been in effect continuously since the 1981 assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and were renewed [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed] most recently in May 2008.