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Cairo - Mohammed Badie, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tuesday joined hundreds of his followers in prison as authorities escalated their arrest campaign against the organization which ruled Egypt until only seven weeks ago.
Police seized Badie in an early morning raid on an apartment in Rabaa al-Adawiya - the north-eastern Cairo area where police last week stormed a sit-in by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
He was transferred to Tora prison in southern Cairo, where prosecutors interrogated him and ordered that he remain in detention for 15 days.
Badie faces charges related to the killing of anti-Morsi demonstrators outside the presidential palace in December and for inciting the storming of a Republican Guard building after Morsi's ouster.
Badie had been in hiding since the military ousted Morsi on July 3 following mass demonstrations against his rule.
His only appearance since then was a fiery speech to tens of thousands of Morsi supporters at Rabaa al-Adawiya.
The Muslim Brotherhood reacted with defiance to their leader's arrest. “Dr Mohammed Badie is one member of the Muslim Brotherhood,” spokesman Ahmed Aref posted on his Facebook page.
Khaled Hanafy, an official at the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, refused to confirm or deny that hardliner Mahmoud Ezzat was appointed as the group's new Supreme guide.
“The brotherhood's ideology makes it (immune) to collapsing if one person disappears,” Hanafy told reporters.
State-run newspaper al-Ahram quoted Interior Ministry spokesman Abdel-Fattah Othman as saying that Badie and a supporter had not resisted arrest, and that he was being “treated very respectfully.”
State media published photographs of Badie in a police truck.
Badie's son Ammar was killed Friday when a pro-Morsi protest degenerated into violent clashes. Badie did not attend the funeral.
Authorities meanwhile continued their arrest campaign against the Islamist group's middle and lower-ranking members.
Local media reported that at least 200 were arrested in Cairo and other provinces, in addition to 1,400 people detained at over the weekend.
Badie's deputies Khairat al-Shater and Rashad al-Bayoumi were arrested after Morsi's ouster, as was his predecessor Mahdi Akef and the head of the Freedom and Justice Party, Saad al-Katatni.
Morsi himself is being held in a secret location.
The tumult has left at least 855 people dead across Egypt last week, including more than 100 security personnel.
The Brotherhood-led national alliance vowed to continue their “peaceful protests against the coup.”
“We are calling for a civil disobedience, and urge people to boycott all media, businessmen, companies and countries supporting the coup,” said Magdy Qorqor, a leader in the New Labour Party, a member of the alliance.
Also to face court, with a trial date set for September 19, is Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei.
ElBaradei is charged with betrayal of trust after his resignation as vice president in protest at the crackdown at Rabaa al-Adawiya.
The case against him was brought by Sayyid Atiq, head of criminal law in Helwan University, who argues that ElBaradei was appointed as a representative of the opposition and was obliged to refer his resignation to them.
The Nobel laureate left Cairo Sunday for Vienna, according to Al-Ahram, and refused to speak to reporters at the airport.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic spat between Cairo and Ankara continued, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claiming he had evidence of Israel's involvement in Morsi's overthrow.
“Who is behind this? Israel. We have evidence,” Erdogan said at a meeting of his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), citing a meeting between a French intellectual and the Israeli justice minister in France before the 2011 elections.
“'The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections. Because democracy is not the ballot box': This is what he said at that time,” Erdogan said, according to the Hurriyet daily.
Egyptian presidential spokesman Ahmed al-Meslemani hit back, saying: “Agents of the West cannot give Egypt lessons on democracy.”
Relations between the countries have plummeted recently, with Egypt objecting to Erdogan's vocal support of the ousted president.
As European Union foreign ministers get ready to meet Wednesday to discuss the bloc's response to the crisis in Egypt, a US media report said the bulk of that country's aid to Egypt's military had been unofficially frozen.
The Daily Beast reported, citing anonymous administration officials, that 585 million dollars of 1.3 billion dollars in military funding was “on hold,” along with the delivery of Apache helicopters and aid for economic programmes.
A spokesman for Senator Patrick Leahy said the lawmaker's “understanding is that aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law.”