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Egypt arrests deputy Brotherhood leader el-Erian

The deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, Freedom and Justice, has been arrested by Egyptian security forces. He is the latest Brotherhood chief sought since the ouster of President Morsi in July.

In an early morning raid on an apartment in Cairo, Essam el-Erian was arrested by Egyptian security forces, according to Egyptian media and interior ministry sources.

They spoke to news agencies on the condition of anonymity. A tip had led security forces to an apartment in eastern outskirts of Cairo, they said.

The deputy leader of the Freedom and Justice Party – the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood – is one of the last remaining senior officials to be arrested in the aftermath of President Mohammed Morsi's fall from power in July.

El-Erian, Morsi, and other figures in the Muslim Brotherhood had been sought by the new military-backed authorities that took over after Morsi was driven from power after his one-year presidency.

From hiding, el-Erian had distributed messages to followers, urging them to denounce the coup and demand Morsi's reinstatement as elected president.

Morsi himself is being held and is expected to go on trial starting November 4 on charges of inciting followers to violence and murder.

Trials pending

On Tuesday, three judges heading the trial of nearly three dozen other Muslim Brotherhood members stepped down when the defendants were denied the right to attend the courtroom sessions.

The Muslim Brotherhood maintains the trials have merely been orchestrated for the sake of revenge after the Muslim Brotherhood ascended to power. Former authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011.

In August, security forces launched a crackdown on Morsi's supporters, violently dispersing two protest camps in Cairo and making mass arrests.

More than 1,000 people have been killed since Morsi's ouster - mainly his supporters - and the authorities have detained some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership.

mz/ipj (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)