Morsi defends ex-army chief against corruption report

CAIRO - Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi sought on Thursday to reassure the military after a state-owned newspaper reported corruption charges against the two army chiefs he sacked in August.

On Wednesday, the editor of Gomhuria newspaper was suspended after publishing a report saying ex-military chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and chief of staff Sami Enan were barred from travelling because of a corruption probe.

"I reject the newspaper reports about them altogether," said Morsi, while attending a military training exercise in the Sinai. "As president of the republic I stress the necessity of respecting both incumbent and former leaders of the armed forces," he said in comments carried by the official MENA news agency's English-language service.

Morsi added that he still consulted with Tantawi and Enan, whom he appointed as advisors after removing them in a power struggle with the once ruling military.

The justice ministry opened an investigation this week into allegations against the two over the killings of protesters under military rule, following the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak last year in a popular uprising.

Morsi, the country's first Islamist and civilian president, sacked the two, along with other generals, after a militant attack on a border outpost in the Sinai killed 16 soldiers.