'Brotherhood leader in good health'

Egypt's Interior Ministry has denied reports that Mohamed Badie has died of a heart attack.

FILE:A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood searches through the debris while a fellow demonstrator throws an object during clashes with police in Cairo on August 14, 2013. Picture: AFP

CAIRO - Egypt's Interior Ministry said on Saturday the top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, was in good health and denied reports that he died from a heart attack in prison.

Any severe deterioration in Badie's health in prison would certainly deepen hostilities between the organisation and the army-backed government that deposed the Brotherhood-backed president, Mohamed Morsi, in July.

The Interior Ministry's Facebook page said Badie, the Brotherhood's general guide, was "enjoying good health".

State-run al-Ahram newspaper reported earlier that he suffered a heart attack while in jail but his condition had since stabilised.

It was not clear whether the Interior Ministry was denying just the death or the death and the heart attack.

State-run news agency MENA earlier denied a report by the private al-Nahar website that the 70-year-old Badie had died.

Badie and many other leaders have been arrested in recent weeks in one of the toughest crackdowns the Islamist group has faced.

Badie was charged in July with incitement to murder in connection with protests before Morsi was ousted. He was due to be questioned on 28 August but prison authorities delayed the session because of his poor health.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said he had no information on Badie's health when asked to respond to the reports.

A medical team was reportedly sent to Torah prison on the outskirts of Cairo to assess Badie's medical condition on Saturday, a security source told al-Ahram.

The source said his condition has stabilised and that the heart attack resulted from the "bad psychological state that he is going through".

The Brotherhood has been calling on Egyptians to stage mass protests to demand the reinstatement of Morsi, who was ousted following widespread protests against his rule a year after he was elected.

But the arrests of Badie and others have made it difficult for the group to get large numbers on the streets.

The whereabouts of many senior Brotherhood politicians are unknown. Those who had been posting frequently on social media have stopped.

Arrests have extended beyond Cairo, also netting provincial leaders of the movement.

One of Badie's sons was killed during protests against the army-backed government.