Mohamed Morsi, the former president of Egypt who took power after the 2011 Arab Spring, died during a court appearance on Monday. He was 67.
Morsi, who has been in custody since 2013, was facing charges related to accusations that he had colluded with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. He fainted after speaking to the court and died shortly after. Egyptian state TV reported there was not enough time to get him to a hospital. Egypt’s top public prosecutor said Morsi had no recent injuries, but Morsi’s son said last year that the ousted president had serious medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. The government has faced accusations that it denied Morsi needed medical treatment and kept him in isolation for 23 hours a day at a massive facility nicknamed Scorpion Prison.
The first democratically elected president following the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak, Morsi rode a wave of popular support into power in 2012 as a top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement in Egypt. But his government quickly devolved into political turmoil, with his administration viewed as both autocratic and incompetent. Millions took to the streets to call for his exit over proposed changes to the Egyptian Constitution that would have further built up his power. Critics also complained he was allowing Islamists to take control over the government.
In a coup led by the more secular military establishment, Morsi was taken into custody by the army in 2013, less than a year into his four-year term. Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, then a general in the army, led the overthrow and a massive crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which was later outlawed in Egypt and labeled a terrorist group. With Mubarak’s fall and Morsi’s election, Egypt seemed to be moving toward democracy. But Sisi’s administration has been accused of totalitarian behavior on par with Mubarak.
Since Morsi was deposed, he has faced numerous charges ranging from inciting deadly violence to espionage, as well as multiple politicized trials—including the same charges of collaborating with Hamas, for which he was previously sentenced to death. Egypt’s top court of appeal overturned Morsi’s death sentence and ordered a new trial. Morsi was also serving a 20-year prison sentence that arose out of the killing of protesters during the demonstrations against him.
Before he collapsed, Morsi reportedly warned that he had “many secrets” that could get him out of prison—but he said he wouldn’t reveal them because they would harm Egypt’s national security.