Obama administration calls on Egyptian military to release Morsi

The Obama administration for the first time Friday called on the Egyptian military to release deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

Asked what the State Department thinks of the German foreign ministry's call for his release, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said “we agree.” Morsi has been detained incommunicado with at least seven of his top aides for the past week in a “safe place,” according to the Egyptian army.

Psaki made it clear, however, that the administration now recognizes interim President Adli Mansour, who was appointed by the military, as the country's legitimate leader.

“It is, of course, up to the Egyptian people, as we've said a number of times, to determine their future and the path forward,” Psaki said. “We are working with the interim government … and I can also confirm for you that Ambassador [Anne] Patterson has met with the interim president, as well.”

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Asked if that means the administration wouldn't recognize Morsi if he were released, Psaki said, “I think I just stated who we've been working with, but obviously, it's up to the Egyptian people from here.”

She said the administration was still determining whether Morsi was deposed in a military coup, which would require a freeze in $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid. Several lawmakers have called for such a determination to be made, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday introduced legislation calling Morsi's removal a coup.

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