Cairo • Mohammed Morsi, the former Egyptian president who hasn't been seen in public since the country's military overthrew him July 3, will not appear at the opening session Monday of his trial, the government announced Sunday, raising fears among his supporters about his health and how he has been treated during his detention.
The trial overshadowed Secretary of State John Kerry's visit here as State Department officials sought to dispel reports in a government newspaper that Kerry had come for the first time since Morsi's ouster to stop the trial.
Instead, Kerry urged that Egypt respect the rule of law and transparent trials without mentioning Monday's session specifically.
"The United States believes that the U.S.-Egypt partnership is going to be strongest when Egypt is represented by an inclusive, democratically-elected, civilian government based on rule of law, fundamental freedoms and an open and competitive economy," Kerry said at a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.
Whether the trial would be televised remained unclear Sunday. Numerous news agencies reported it would not. The trial had already been moved, appeals court judge Medhat Idris announced Sunday, from the Torah prison to the city's Police Academy, the same site where former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's trial was held.
Many fear that the trial could set off a new round of violence between Morsi supporters and opponents. Pro-Morsi demonstrations had been planned outside the Torah prison when that was thought to be the trial's venue. The decision that Morsi would not appear at the start of his own trial seemed as inflammatory as having him appear in a cage in court, as is Egyptian tradition for criminal defendants.
Cairo already was locked down Sunday. Tanks were stationed at key government locations, and 20,000 police and soldiers had been called up to secure the nation for Monday's hearing. Some government workers did not report for duty on Sunday, a workday in Egypt, and some schools were closed. Many businesses urged their workers not to come to work Monday.
Kerry: U.S. won't permit attacks on Mideast partners
Cairo • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday tried to reassure America's Arab friends that the United States will not allow them to be attacked "from outside," in an apparent warning to Iran.
He specifically mentioned Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt as nations, alongside unspecified "others," that the U.S. will defend. Those others likely would include Israel, the strongest U.S. ally in the region.
"The United States will be there for the defense of our friends and our allies," Kerry told reporters in Cairo. "We will not allow those countries to be attacked from outside. We will stand with them."
Kerry spoke during the first stop on his trip to the Middle East, Europe and North Africa.
After Egypt, he headed later Sunday to Saudi Arabia, where the biggest rifts with the Obama administration have emerged.
Saudi officials have complained that the United States did not follow through on its threat to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad with military strikes for his government's use of chemical weapons. The Saudis also have watched warily as President Barack Obama has opened a tentative rapprochement with Iran, Saudi Arabia's archrival.
The Associated Press