CAIRO — Mohammed Morsi, deposed as president by the Egyptian military on July 3, is in good health, visitors allowed access to him and his aides in recent days have revealed. Where he is, however, remains a mystery that has enraged his family and supporters, and aggravated Egypt's crisis.
The most recent person to visit him, Catherine Ashton, the European Union's top foreign policy official, was not blindfolded Monday when she was taken to him, aides said. But she was flown by helicopter in the dark of night on the condition that she not reveal anything about Morsi's whereabouts.
A previous group of visitors, Egyptian human rights activists, described having to hand over their cellphones Friday before boarding a helicopter that circled for 15 minutes in what appeared to be an effort to disorient them.
The military says its extreme caution comes from concern for Morsi's safety, though it is probably more worried that his supporters would seize even the vaguest information on his location to create a new focus for their rallies — particularly after two bloody crackdowns on their protests.
When Morsi's supporters thought that he was being held in the Republican Guard House in Cairo, they showed up en masse. Security forces opened fire, killing more than 60 people in one of two mass killings by the security services in the past month.
Last week, prosecutors ordered Morsi's formal detention for 15 days pending an investigation into charges related to his escape from prison during the 2011 uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. The charges were part of an intensifying crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups that has resulted in arrest warrants or detention of Islamist leaders.
Morsi's detention has emerged as key obstacle to resolving the crisis, according to mediators. Brotherhood leaders and foreign diplomats have repeatedly pressed for Morsi's release as a good-will gesture that might move negotiations forward.
Ashton said she was not certain where Morsi was being held. "He's well," she said, without going into specifics.