Egyptian security forces arrested a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood early Wednesday, the interior ministry said, the latest move in an extended crackdown on the Islamist movement, CNN reports. Essam el-Erian, the vice chairman of the group’s political wing – the Freedom and Justice Party – was found in a Cairo suburb and was subsequently arrested and booked, the ministry said in a statement. Before his arrest, he was one of the most senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders still at large. The military and police have detained large numbers of Brotherhood officials and supporters since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsy in July. A court banned the movement in September. Egypt’s general prosecutor had issued an arrest warrant for el-Erian, the former leader of the majority party in Egypt’s upper house of Parliament, accusing him and other party members of “inciting violence” and “aiding criminal acts,” the interior ministry said.
The military’s overthrow of the democratically elected Morsy, amid widespread demonstrations calling for his resignation, has plunged Egypt deeper into turmoil. Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between security forces and supporters of Morsy and the Brotherhood, many of them when the military used force to clear two pro-Morsy sit-in sites in Cairo in August. The U.S. government said earlier this month that it was suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Egyptian military over the bloody crackdown on the Brotherhood.