Egyptian security forces closed the agency’s security and internet cameras and searched the premise overnight, the agency said. The workers’ passports, cell phones and computers were confiscated, he said, adding that no explanation was given to the agency’s lawyer.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry condemned the raid, demanded the immediate release of Anadolu employees and summoned the top Egyptian diplomat in protest, a ministry official said.
“The raid last night by Egyptian security forces at the Anadolu Agency office in Cairo and the arrest of some of the office workers without justification amounts to harassment and intimidation against the Turkish media,” he said. Ministry in a statement.
“We hope that the Egyptian authorities will immediately release the detained employees,” the ministry added.
He also blamed Western nations for the raid, accusing them of “turning a blind eye” to rights violations in Egypt.
In a clearly worded statement, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “total and complete rejection” of Turkey’s response, and defended its security forces for acting legally. He said Turkey’s concerns about press freedom in Egypt obscured the country’s rampant violations of freedom of expression and human rights.
The Interior Ministry of Egypt said it targeted the news agency as part of its “efforts to expose the conspiracies of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and the countries that support it.”
The Islamist party of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has long backed the Muslim Brotherhood, now illegal and clandestine in Egypt. Countries had close ties during the one-year presidency of Mohamed Morsi, a figure of the Muslim Brotherhood whose divisive government sparked mass protests.
As defense minister, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi led the military removal of Morsi, and has since qualified the enemy group of the state.
The ministry accused Anadolu of spreading “false news with the aim of distorting the image of Egypt.”
He said security forces raided an apartment in the heart of Cairo that Anadolu used as an impromptu office and arrested the four employees, including two journalists, for investigation.
The incident reflects the growing tensions between Turkey and Egypt.
As part of a wider regional rivalry, Turkey and Egypt support opposing sides in the chaotic war in Libya. In an attempt to increase its influence in the eastern Mediterranean, Ankara recently signed security and maritime agreements with the government of Libya, backed by the UN and based in Tripoli. The agreements caused a particular outrage in Egypt, which supports the Eastern forces of General Khalifa Hifter. Egypt sees Turkey as a threat to its drilling, pipelines and other maritime rights in the Mediterranean Sea.
In recent years, Egyptian authorities have jailed dozens of Egyptian reporters and occasionally expelled foreign journalists from the country. Egypt remains one of the worst incarceration of journalists in the world, along with Turkey and China, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, a control body based in the United States.
“Journalists operating in Egypt should not have to work for fear of being used to resolve political scores between countries,” said Sherif Mansour, coordinator of the CPJ program for the Middle East and North Africa.
The group urged Egyptian authorities to free agency employees and “stop using false news charges to harass and silence the media.”
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