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Defiant Morsi says coup is treason

Egypt's ousted president Mohammed Morsi has accused the military chief who deposed him of treason in a message from prison, saying the country cannot return to stability until the coup is reversed.

The statement was part of a bid by Mr Morsi to rally his supporters since his emergence from the secret military detention where he had been held, with virtually no contact with the outside world, since his July 3 removal.

Mr Morsi was moved to a high security civilian jail last week after the first session of his trial on charges of inciting murder. There, he had his first extensive meeting with a team of lawyers from his Muslim Brotherhood and other allies, dictating the "message to the Egyptian people" to them.

But he is emerging to a dramatically changed situation from four months ago.

Since then, a fierce crackdown by security forces has crippled the Brotherhood, several thousand top leaders have been arrested, and hundreds have been killed. The group has been banned by a court order and a government-appointed committee is reviewing its financial assets with an eye to seize them. The new military-backed government is pushing ahead with a transition plan aiming for new presidential and parliamentary elections early next year.

Under the crackdown, protests by Morsi supporters have dwindled and have been reduced to small gatherings in universities or neighbourhood rallies. Security officials, however, worry the protests could flare stronger with the anticipated lifting on Thursday of a three-month-old state of emergency and curfew.

Ahead of the lifting, the government said it had reviewed the security plan to be put in action, which included increasing police deployments, including mobile and fixed checkpoints in the streets.

"Any attempts to destabilise the country or undermine state or citizen's security will be dealt with firmly in accordance with the law," it said.

Mr Morsi's statement took a hard line, praising protesters for their "steadfastness" and vowing the coup would be reversed.

He said Defence Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who heads the military, had violated his oath of loyalty and committed "treason against God" and "treason against the whole nation by driving a wedge among the people of Egypt."

He also said Egypt will not see stability until "the military coup is eliminated and those responsible for shedding Egyptians' blood are held accountable."

In his trial Mr Morsi has so far refused to accept legal representation, insisting he remains the elected president and that the tribunal against him is illegitimate. In the trial's first session he spoke out defiantly, portraying himself as president.

-AP

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