Egypt: Sisi claims he didn't 'betray' toppled leader Mohamed Morsi, asks for 'political dialogue'
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has claimed he did not scheme against toppled former leader Mohamed Morsi, who died in an Egyptian courtroom in 2019, on Tuesday.
Sisi made the claim at the Egyptian Family Iftar, an annual banquet held during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, news website Arabi 21 reported.
"What happened in the [TV] series The Choice is true, and it documented that period well," Sisi said, referring to a TV drama series which depicts the events leading to Morsi's 2013 ouster.
"There was no conspiracy or betrayal against the late President Mohamed Morsi."
The president claimed he "stood with President Morsi, may God have mercy on him, on the grounds that he stood with Egypt and the Egyptian people".
Sisi, who was Egypt's army chief in 2013, headed the coup against Morsi just over a year into his term as president. Morsi was later jailed, along with thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and leaders.
"If anyone conspired against him, then it is as if he conspired against Egypt and the future and lives of 100 million Egyptians," Sisi added.
Egyptian security agencies have set 'a state of cyber security alert' after a group of expatriates named 'Egypt's autocrats' had circulated an online petition to withdraw confidence from #Sisi for falling short of handling the state, especially economy. https://t.co/WjICFUlBzZ— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) April 19, 2022
Also present at the dinner were several opponents of Sisi, including Hamdeen Sbahi, who ran for president against him in 2014, according to the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper.
Human rights activist and Elsharq TV presenter Ahmed Samih explained in a tweet why he believes Sisi's address wasn't broadcast live.
He said: "Sisi's nervousness and anxiety cannot be hidden. Sisi is scared of the people, scared of the army, scared of the future."
Since taking power in 2013, Sisi has jailed thousands of political prisoners and government critics have reportedly been tortured, disappeared, exiled or languish in Egypt’s jails.
Reporters Without Borders have called the country "one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists" and ranked Egypt 166 out of 180 in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
Following his overthrow by Sisi, Morsi was imprisoned in harsh conditions and human rights group said that medical neglect by the Egyptian authorities contributed to his death.