Muslim Brotherhood students protest in Cairo

An Egyptian student who supports ousted President Mohamed Morsi faces soldiers during a protest near the Ministry of Defense building in Cairo on Wednesday. (Khaled Elfiqi / European Pressphoto Agency / December 18, 2013)

CAIRO -- Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will face serious new charges that include espionage and aiding in terrorist acts, state media reported Wednesday.

The move appeared to reflect determination on the part of the military-backed interim government to keep up the pressure on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which for the last five months has demanded his reinstatement.

Egyptian authorities have waged a relentless campaign against Morsi’s followers since the deeply unpopular Islamist leader was ousted by the army in July. About 1,000 of his supporters died in the violent dispersal of sit-in protests in August, and thousands more are imprisoned. The Brotherhood’s top leadership  has been decimated, with virtually all senior figures in jail or in hiding.

A statement by the prosecutor-general’s office, cited by state television and other official outlets, said Morsi is now accused of assisting in terrorist acts and espionage. He is also accused of collaborating with Hamas, the militant Islamist group that holds sway in the Gaza Strip. 

Morsi is already on trial on charges of inciting the killings of protesters a year ago, when he was still in office. Those proceedings, which began in November, are to resume in three weeks.

The new charges are being levied not only against Morsi, but 35 co-defendants, including senior former advisers. They appear to stem from a prison break that occurred during the chaos of the 2011 uprising that drove longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power.

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laura.king@latimes.com