CAIRO — Egypt's ousted president, Mohammed Morsi, spoke with his family by telephone for the first time since the military removed him from office and detained him in a secret location more than two months ago, one of his lawyers said Wednesday.
The phone calls come as authorities are preparing to put Morsi on trial on charges of killing protesters during his year in office — though no date for the trial has been set. The lawyer, Mostafa Atteyah, said Morsi's legal team has so far not been able to talk to him.
The Islamist leader has been almost completely incommunicado in an undisclosed facility since the head of the military ousted him on July 3 in the wake of mass nationwide protests demanding his removal. Since that time, security forces have waged a wide crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, arresting much of the group's top leadership and a heavy swath of its mid-level organizers.
At the same time, prosecutors have been investigating a number of possible cases against Morsi, including allegations he insulted judges.
Morsi, who turned 62 last month while in detention, spoke by phone with his wife and children last week and a second time two days later, telling them he was in good health, Atteyah said.
"He reassured his wife," Atteyah said.
A Brotherhood member said Morsi spoke at greater length with his son Osama. The member spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns.
Morsi also told his family, "I will remain steadfast to the last breath," according to the Turkish news agency Anadolu, which first reported the telephone conversation. Morsi said he insisted to his interrogators that he remains the legitimate president of Egypt, the report said. Morsi did not seem to know where he was being held, the report said, adding that even those questioning Morsi are brought to the location blindfolded.
Atteyah, the lawyer, confirmed the report of the news agency.
Attempts to reach the wife of Morsi were unsuccessful. Atteyah said the wife changes her telephone number often and moves from one place to another to avoid a security crackdown that has targeted Morsi's supporters and allies.
The only visitors Morsi is known to have seen were the European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and an African Union delegation. A delegation of Egyptian rights groups was also permitted to visit him but he declined to meet with them. All the delegations were transported in military helicopters to the undisclosed locations.
Morsi's Brotherhood and his other supporters have refused to recognize his ouster and have continued near daily protests demanding his reinstatement — though on a smaller scale since security forces violently broke up their main sit-in locations in mid-August, sparking days of violence that left over a 1,00 dead, mostly Morsi supporters.
Since then, several thousand Brotherhood members and other Islamists have been detained.