CAIRO — An internationally respected Egyptian political scientist said Wednesday that prosecutors had filed espionage charges against him, making him the second such scholar targeted this month in a widening crackdown on dissent against last summer’s military takeover.
Emad Shahin, a scholar of political Islam who has taught at Harvard, Notre Dame and the American University in Cairo and edited the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics, was charged along with several senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood with conspiring with foreign organizations to undermine Egypt’s national security. He is listed as Defendant 33 in a lengthy criminal complaint that also names former President Mohamed Morsi, who was deposed in the takeover.
The charges against Mr. Shahin were filed more than two weeks ago, but they have come to light just as prosecutors have also charged Amr Hamzawy, a liberal political scientist and former lawmaker, with the crime of insulting the judiciary because he questioned a ruling against a group of Western nonprofit organizations.
Both men were among the few public critics of the bloody crackdown on Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters after the military takeover. Both were also fiercely critical of Mr. Morsi and the Brotherhood while they were in power, although previously Mr. Shahin had been relatively more sympathetic to the idea that the Brotherhood might play a constructive role in a new democracy.
Mr. Shahin learned of the complaint, left Egypt before his arrest and on Wednesday he was in Washington for a conference at Georgetown University.
In an emailed statement on Wednesday, he called the charges “baseless,” “politically motivated” and “beyond preposterous,” noting that he had never been a member or supporter of the Brotherhood.
Colleagues who have known him for decades called the charges absurd. “Laughable,” said Nathan J. Brown, a political science professor at George Washington University. “I would sooner believe that Vice President Biden is a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army than I would give credence to the charges against Emad.”
This piece was originally published in The New York Times