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New evidence backs authenticity of leaked Egypt tapes

Egypt's prosecutor general accuses Brotherhood of using advanced technology to 'fabricate' phone calls, attribute them to public figures
A row of portraits of then Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi supporting him to run for the country's presidency, in Alexandria on 14 February, 2014 (AFP)

New evidence has reportedly emerged that support the authenticity of leaked audio tapes, claiming Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi had been "illegally" detained immediately after his ouster last year.

Meanwhile, Egypt's prosecutor general Friday ordered an investigation into what it claimed were "fabricated" tapes.  

Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, was ousted on July 3, 2013 by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after mass street protests against his one-year rule.

Several satellite channels aired on Friday audio recordings of a man identified as General Mamdouh Shahin, legal adviser to then army chief Sisi, warning other senior officials in Sisi's office that the case against Morsi would collapse if certain documents were not "forged".

In one of the recordings leaked to the media, Shahin is heard telling the officials, including interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim, how the authorities did not detain Morsi in interior ministry-run prisons, and instead held him in a building belonging to the army immediately after his ouster.

In another tape, Shahin allegedly tells the other officials that documents had been "forged" so that the case against Morsi would not be jeopardised. 

The authenticity of the recordings could not be independently verified.

Google Earth pictures

But the website Arabi 21 has obtained two Google Earth pictures of the "hangar" in which Morsi was held following the military coup.

The pictures appear to suggest the Egyptian army sought to "modify the hangar and convert it into an official prison by means of falsification with the acquiescence of the Interior Ministry and Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat," Middle East Monitor reported.

The authorities have repeatedly said Morsi's ouster was not a "coup", but a decision taken after mass street protests in Cairo and other cities on June 30, 2013.

For weeks after his ouster Morsi's whereabouts were unknown, with his supporters repeatedly asking where he was being held.

"The military has not confirmed where they (Morsi and aides) are currently held," Human Rights Watch said on July 8, 2013, five days after his ouster.

The taped conversations went viral on the Internet and social networks like Twitter and YouTube on Friday.

The prosecutor general accused the Muslim Brotherhood of "fabricating" the recordings and launched an investigation into it.

The Brotherhood movement "uses the media supported by foreign entities ... and uses advanced technology to fabricate phone calls and attribute them to public figures and leaders ...  to sow chaos and disrupt security," it said in a statement.

This was an attempt to "influence the judges who are reviewing important criminal cases against the terrorist elements of the Muslim Brotherhood."

Vowing to fight such "crimes", it ordered an "extensive investigation to find those responsible for fabricating these recordings".

Morsi and 35 co-defendants, including leading members of his Muslim Brotherhood group, face charges of "conspiring" with Palestinian movement Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah to carry out "terrorist acts" inside Egypt.

Morsi and his co-defendants emphatically deny all the charges against them, which they insist are politically driven.

He currently faces multiple criminal charges, including incitement to murder, jailbreak and "offending Egypt's judiciary."

The authorities have been waging a brutal crackdown against Morsi supporters since his ouster.

At least 1,400 have died in clashes with police and more than 15,000 jailed in the crackdown, while top Brotherhood leaders including Morsi are facing trials punishable by death. 

Egypt's Morsi tells court of post-ouster whereabouts

Meanwhile, Morsi has reportedly unveiled details about his location during a court hearing into alleged espionage charges on Saturday.

During Saturday's hearing, Morsi recalled that he was moved from the Republican Guard headquarters in eastern Cairo to several locations until he reached the Abu Qir naval base in the coastal province of Alexandria, where he was held from July 5 to November 4.

"I heard that the prosecutor in the Ittihadiya case [in which Morsi faces charges of inciting the murder of demonstrators in 2012] saying that the Interior Minister had decided to consider the military base [Abu Qir naval base] as an Interior Ministry prison," Morsi  told the presiding judge during the hearing.

"I will not go into further details because I fear for Egypt's national security. But if you want to know the truth, I will reveal it in a closed session in the presence of Sisi, [former chief of staff] Sami Anan and [former defence minister] Hussein Tantawi," Morsi said.

At the beginning of the hearing, the defence demanded an investigation into the leaked recordings.

"If the arrest and detention procedures were proven invalid, all these cases [against Morsi] will be nullified," said defence attorney Montasser al-Zayyat told the court.