Egypt detains Muslim Brotherhood leader

August 20, 2013

Brotherhood leader jailed, defectors share horrifying stories from North Korean prison camps, and the British government smashes the Guardian’s computers. Today is Tuesday, August 20, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie sits at a police station after security forces arrested him in Cairo in this handout picture dated August 20, 2013. REUTERS/The Interior Ministry/Handout via Reuters

Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader whisked off to prison. Egypt’s military-backed interim government detained the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader on Tuesday morning, in the midst of Egypt’s bloodiest week since former President Mohamed Mursi’s ouster on July 3:

Mohamed Badie, 70, the Brotherhood’s general guide, was taken from an apartment in Nasr City in northeast Cairo, the area where protesters demanding Mursi’s reinstatement had staged a vigil for six weeks before they were violently dispersed. He was charged in July with incitement to murder during protests before Mursi’s overthrow and is due to stand trial on August 25 together with his two deputies. Footage circulated on local media showed the bearded Brotherhood leader sitting grim-faced on a sofa in a grey robe, hands folded in his lap, while a man with a rifle stands by. The release of the images seemed designed to humiliate the Brotherhood’s most senior chief, whose arrest means the top echelon of the Islamist movement is now behind bars.

An Al Jazeera correspondent in Cairo called the arrest “incredibly significant,” explaining that Badie’s arrest was viewed as a “red line” even under Mubarak’s presidency. A spokesman for the Tamarod group, which started the anti-government protests against Mursi last month, praised Badie’s arrest as “an important step [toward] dismantling the terrorist group by arresting its leaders.” A U.S. Senator told the Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin that the White House has put military aid to Egypt on hold.  Gulf Arab states have offered to make up the difference in any cuts, decreasing the effectiveness of such a threat from Western leaders. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE have pledged $12 billion in loans and aid to Egypt since Mursi was overthrown. Experts fear that the military crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood could provide fodder for extremist Islamist groups like al Qaeda to mobilize its members with images of violence against fellow Islamists.

Shin Dong-hyuk, a former North Korean defector, attends a public hearing at Yonsei university in Seoul, August 20, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Torture, executions in North Korean prison camps. For the first time, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry panel is investigating North Korea’s human rights record. In a public hearing in Seoul, defectors described their experiences in North Korea’s prisons:

Harrowing accounts from defectors now living in South Korea related how guards chopped off a man’s finger, forced inmates to eat frogs and a mother to kill her own baby… There are a 150,000-200,000 people in North Korean prison camps, according to independent estimates, and defectors say many inmates are malnourished or worked to death. After more than a year and a half ruling North Korea, Kim Jong Un, 30, has shown few signs of changing the rigid rule of his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung. Neither have there been signs of a thaw or loss of control inside the tightly controlled state.

Though experts doubt that the commission’s findings will lead to tangible change in the North, they hope that the testimonies will shed light on the rights situation in North Korea.

The editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, leaves Downing Street in London, December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Destruction demand. The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, revealed on Monday that British authorities forced the newspaper to destroy material leaked by Edward Snowden last month:

Alan Rusbridger said he had received a call from a government official a month ago who told him: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” The paper had been threatened with legal action if it did not comply. Later, two “security experts” from the secretive Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had visited the paper’s London offices and watched as computer hard drives containing Snowden material were reduced to mangled bits of metal. Asked by the BBC who he thought was behind those events, Rusbridger said he had “got the sense there was an active conversation” involving government departments, intelligence agencies and the prime minister’s Downing Street office.

Rusbridger said the move was symbolic and pointless, adding that his paper will “continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents.” On Sunday, British police held David Miranda, partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, under anti-terrorism laws for several hours in London’s Heathrow airport on Sunday without charge. Greenwald, the first journalist to publish secret documents obtained by Snowden, said he won’t be intimidated by the incident.

Nota Bene: The U.S. State Department believes Zimbabwe’s recent election of Robert Mugabe was flawed, and does not plan to ease sanctions against the country.


Enigma without a dogma – Reuters columnist John Lloyd points out the contradictions of Egyptian General Sisi. (Reuters)

Ski lift downer – Switzerland delivers a blow to Kim Jong-un’s dream of building a ski resort. (BBC)

War on witchcraft – Saudi Arabia’s religious police pursue magical crime. (The Atlantic)

Lie detected – The con man who sold “useless” bomb detectors gets seven years in prison. (The Belfast Telegraph)

Brought to you by the CIA – The CIA admits for the first time ever to its role in Iran’s 1953 coup. (Foreign Policy)

From the File:

  • Britain rejects Spain’s request for Gibraltar talks.
  • Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf charged with murder.
  • Iraqi Kurdistan sets quota for Syrian refugees.
  • Russian victims of domestic violence face uphill battle for protection.
  • German finance minister admits Greece will need third aid deal.
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