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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Spokesman and Social Media Activist for the Muslim Brotherhood Arrested in Cairo

CAIRO â€" Security forces on Tuesday arrested Gehad el-Haddad, a senior official of the Muslim Brotherhood who handled the group’s communication with the foreign media, Egyptian officials said. His arrest was part of a continuing round-up of hundreds or thousands of Brotherhood leaders in the two months since the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, an ally of the group.

Mr. Haddad is an aide to Khairat el-Shater, an top Brotherhood leader who was arrested last month, and he is also the son of Mr. Morsi’s top foreign policy adviser, Essam el-Haddad, who was detained with Mr. Morsi at the time of the takeover. The arrests have already swept up much of the group’s leadership hierarchy, effectively crippling its organizational ability.

Mr. Haddad’s main role in recent months was speaking to the English-language media, and critics of the Brotherhood have often accused him of misinformation and exaggeration, especially in comments posted on the Internet.

Even as he sought to evade arrest by going into hiding over the past month, he continued the Brotherhood’s effort to look for backing from overseas by posting links on Twitter to photographs and video clips that sought to mobilize support for the restoration of President Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist deposed by the military in July.

As news of his arrest circulated online Tuesday, along with images of a smiling Mr. Haddad in custody, some anti-Brotherhood bloggers mocked him, while others who had chided him on the social network for passing on false or exaggerated reports criticized his arrest.

Although he constantly repeated the group’s renunciation of violence to the news media, news reports said Tuesday he would nonetheless be charged with inciting violence. Prosecutors have brought the same charge against Mr. Morsi, Mr. Shater and many others.

Mr. Haddad has lived as a fugitive since August 14, when security forces broke up a Brotherhood-led sit-in against the takeover here, and he moved daily between apartments while avoiding telephones for fear of surveillance. Prior to working full time for the Brotherhood, Mr. Haddad was educated primarily in Britain and worked in Egypt for the Clinton Foundation, established by former President Bill Clinton.

His arrest was confirmed by @ikhwanweb, the Brotherhood’s official English-language Twitter feed, which quoted his brother.

The police appear to have targeted several Brotherhood spokesmen in recent weeks. Among others recently arrested was Mourad Aly, a volunteer consultant to the group’s political party whose main job for the last ten years was as a marketing executive for the Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck. Mr. Aly was apprehended at the airport attempting to board a flight to a corporate meeting abroad, and a spokesman for the company said it working with Egyptian lawyers and the Danish embassy in Cairo to seek his release.