CAIRO: The authorities have tightened the noose on the opposition Muslim Brothers by freezing the assets of the Islamist movement s financiers it accuses of seeking to revive the group s secret apparatus.
Brotherhood leaders denied the allegations and denounced a political campaign they charged was aimed at breaking the back of their movement and risked harming the country s economy.
Egypt s public prosecutor on Sunday ordered a freeze on the assets of 29 businessmen considered close to the movement and their immediate families.
The decision marked the first time such measures – typically reserved for cases of fraud and embezzlement – were taken against the country s largest opposition bloc. Those affected include the Muslim Brotherhood s third ranking official and financier, Khayrat Al-Shater and businessman Abdel Rahman Seoudi, both of whom are in detention, the source said.
Public prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmud charged the 29 with money laundering and financing an illegal group. The case is to be reviewed by a criminal court on Tuesday.
The Muslim Brotherhood activities are financed by its members through their personal contributions and do not rely on companies or businesses, the movement s second-ranking official Mohammed Habib said in a statement.
The businesses in question include a medical services company, publishing houses, construction companies and a popular food retail chain.
This is a terrorist message and a dangerous precedent, Brotherhood spokesman Issam Al Erian said.
All but one of the 29 – who is currently living in Switzerland – were detained by the security services over the past few months.
The Cairo Misdemeanor Court, meanwhile, ordered 16 of the businessmen, including Shater, to be released on Monday, citing the lack of justification for detention, according to judicial sources.