Egyptian authorities have added a former football star to their terror watch list. Mohamed Aboutrika is one of the greatest players in the country's history.
Court officials in Cairo confirmed on Wednesday that Mohamed Aboutrika, 38, who made more than 100 appearances for the Egyptian national team, had been placed on the country's terror watch list last Thursday, over suspicions that he may have helped finance the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
The Associated Press cited unnamed judicial sources, who said that the ruling handed down by Cairo Criminal Court Judge Khalil Abdul Aziz included a travel ban and asset freeze for three years. However, the decision may be appealed within 60 days. Aboutrika already had his assets frozen in 2015 based on the suspicions.
"We will appeal this decision," Aboutrika's lawyer, Mohamed Osman said, adding that "if he is added to the list there will be many legal consequences, notably the travel ban." He also noted that the asset freeze remained in force, despite two court orders for it to be lifted.
The Muslim Brotherhood emerged as the country's dominant political force after Egypt's 2011 Arab Spring uprising and one of its members, Mohamed Morsi, became Egypt's first democratically elected president in mid-2012. However, Morsi's defense minister, General Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, led a coup against Morsi's government one year later and installed himself as president. The Muslim Brotherhood was subsequently banned.
Aboutrika, who was named African Footballer of the year four times and helped his club, Al-Ahly, to a record eighth African Champions League title before retiring in late 2013, publicly endorsed Morsi in his presidential campaign. However, he has denied that his company or any of his partners had ever provided funds to the Brotherhood. He currently works as a commentator for the Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN Sports.
A security forces crackdown that began after the Brotherhood was banned has seen hundreds of Egyptians killed and tens of thousands thrown in jail.
pfd/ (AP, AFPI)