Former Egyptian vice president Mohamed ElBaradei will be sued for breaching "national trust" by quitting the military-led interim government after a bloody crackdown on members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The complaint against ElBaradei was filed by Sayed Ateeq, a law professor at Cairo's Helwan University who accuses the Nobel Peace Prize winner of committing "high treason" and damaging Egypt's image by quitting his job.
According to the court complaint, ElBaradei's resignation gave the wrong impression to the international community, suggesting that the Egyptian government used excessive force against protesters. "[This] contradicts reality," the complaint said.
ElBaradei faces a misdemeanor charge that could carry a $1,430 fine if he is convicted, according to a report from the state-run news agency Al-Ahram.
Khaled Dawoud, a former spokesman for the National Salvation Front, which ElBaradei co-founded, told Al Jazeera that the prosecutor general's decision to refer the case to court was probably a consequence of the atmosphere of polarization in the country.
"This is a reflection of the atmosphere in Egypt right now. You cannot take your independent stand, or otherwise you will be considered breaching national trust" Dawoud said. "The complaint against ElBaradei is ridiculous. I just could not believe this kind of case will be filed."
ElBaradei, a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, stepped down hours after security forces brutally dispersed two crowds protesting the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, killing at least 830 people, according to official figures.
In his resignation letter, ElBaradei lamented the violent crackdown, warning of a "state of polarization and grave division ... The social fabric is threatened as violence breeds violence."
Under Egyptian law, anyone can file a criminal complaint, which is usually investigated by a judge, who decides whether to refer the case to trial.
Judges quickly throw out many cases.
In ElBaradei's case, however, because it is a misdemeanor offense, the case will proceed directly to trial; the judge will decide at the first hearing whether to allow it to proceed.
The lawsuit follows a wave of arrests of Brotherhood leaders in recent days.
Earlier Tuesday, security forces arrested Mohamed Badie, the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood.
ElBaradei, who has been denounced by Egyptian media since his resignation, was the highest-profile liberal to endorse the military coup against Morsi.
The former diplomat left Egypt for Vienna days after his resignation and remains outside the country.
Al Jazeera and wire services