White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. is “concerned” about an Egyptian court’s sentencing of former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi to 20 years in prison.
Morsi, who was deposed from power after he allegedly revealed national security secrets to the Muslim Brotherhood and the government of Qatar, was among 12 other Islamists who were sentenced to long prison terms for inciting murder. Morsi’s tumultuous tenure ended when he was ousted by General Abdel Fattah el Sisi and a loyal Egyptian military in July 2013. Sisi’s removal of Morsi from power would later be approved by the Egyptian people when he was elected president in May 2014.
“The United States is concerned by these sentences,” said Earnest. “All Egyptians, regardless of political affiliation, are entitled to equal and fair treatment before the law, including full respect for their rights to due process.”
“Mr. Morsi, like all other defendants, must be afforded the basic legal right of due process. And the United States continues to be strongly opposed to politicized arrests and detentions,” he added.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf commented on the matter, echoing Earnest’s talking points:
We are concerned by these sentences. All Egyptians, regardless of political affiliation, are entitled to equal and fair treatment before the law, including the full respect for their rights to due process.”We will review the basis of the verdict, which I understand the Egyptian court will make public soon. I don’t think we’ll have much more announcements to do before a review of the basis of that verdict.
Although Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison, he was acquitted of premeditated murder, which carries with it a mandatory death sentence, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Morsi’s attorneys said that they would appeal the sentencing. The Muslim Brotherhood leader faces four more trials involving his time as president of Egypt.