The ousted leader has been moved to a regular prison after the first session of his trial on charges of inciting murder.
Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsy accused the military chief who deposed him of treason in a message from prison read by lawyers on Wednesday, saying the country cannot return to stability until the coup is reversed and those behind it are tried.
The statement was part of a bid by Mr. Morsy to rally his supporters since his emergence from the secret military detention where he had been held, with virtually no contact with the outside world, since his July 3, 2013 ouster.
Mr. Morsy was moved to a regular prison last week after the first session of his trial on charges of inciting murder. There, he had his first extensive meeting with a team of lawyers from his Muslim Brotherhood and other allies on Tuesday, dictating the “message to the Egyptian people” to them.
But he is emerging to a dramatically changed situation from four months ago. Since then, a fierce crackdown by security forces has crippled the Brotherhood, several thousand top leaders have been arrested, and hundreds have been killed. The new military-backed government is pushing ahead with a transition plan aiming for new presidential and parliamentary elections early next year.
Under the crackdown, protests by Mr. Morsy’s supporters have dwindled and have been reduced to small gathering mainly inside universities. Security officials, however, worry the protests could flare stronger with the anticipated lifting on Wednesday or Thursday of a 3-month-old state of emergency and curfew.
Mr. Morsy’s statement lay down a hard line, praising protesters for their “steadfastness” and vowing the coup would be reversed.
“The coup has begun to fall apart and will topple in the face of the steadfastness of the Egyptian people,” he said in the statement, read by the lawyers at a press conference.
In his trial, Mr. Morsy has so far refused to accept legal representation, insisting he remains the elected president and that the tribunal against him is illegitimate. Brotherhood lawyer Mohammed el-Damati said at the press conference on Wednesday that so far that position has not changed after the prison meeting the day before, and that it is “too early” to say whether Mr. Morsy will accept a lawyer. He has until the next session of the trial, on January 8, 2014 to decide.
The team of lawyers will start pursuing legal measures against the coup and those behind it, Mr. el-Damati said.
When asked what are the legal options Mr. Morsy and his team think they can take to reverse the coup, Mr. el-Damati said, “These are thorny issues.” One possibility is to make a complaint to the prosecutor-general that “what happened is a crime.” Another is to file a suit in administrative courts arguing that the decisions taken by Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are “null and invalid.”