Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood members to stay in jail

Two senior members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood who have been in prison for six months have had their detentions renewed for more than two weeks, police and group Web site said. Essam el-Erian and Mohammed Morsi, who were jailed for organizing pro-reform protests in May, had their detentions extended for 15 days on Saturday, said police officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The two are leading members of Egypt's largest Islamic political organization and were among more than 500 members detained by authorities in May when several demonstrations were held in support of two reformist judges facing disciplinary action. In August, a lower court ordered the release of both men after they spent three months in jail without being charged. However, two days later, a higher court overhauled that verdict, and they remained in prison. El-Erian, a former lawmaker, also was arrested last year for five months during a wave of anti-government protests but was released after Egypt's presidential elections in September. Morsi is a member of the Brotherhood's political bureau and formerly headed its bloc in parliament. The Brotherhood, which is formally banned but somewhat tolerated, won nearly a fifth of the parliament in last year's elections, making it the largest opposition group. Founded in 1928 and banned since 1954, the Brotherhood is believed to have tens of thousands of followers.