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Turkey and rights groups condemn Egypt raid and arrests of Anadolu staff

January 16, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Anadolu Agency office in Cairo, Egypt on 23 June 2016 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and human rights groups have condemned Egypt’s raid on the Turkish news organisation Anadolu Agency’s office in Cairo, yesterday evening.

Speaking in a televised interview on CNN Türk, Cavusoglu stated that: “Such a raid by the Egyptian police on Anadolu Agency is unacceptable,” and called for the release of four of the agency’s staff members – one of whom is a Turkish citizen – who have been arrested and detained.

He added that Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had a deep suspicion that Egypt is “resentful” of Turkey for having sought an international investigation into the death of former – and first democratically elected – Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, who suspiciously died in a courtroom during a hearing last year.

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Other reasons for Egypt’s possible resentment is Turkey’s opposition to a deal struck last year between Egypt, Israel, southern Cyprus and Greece. The deal aims to attain a monopoly of the natural gas and energy resources in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as Turkey’s support and military assistance for the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya, while Egypt is backing its opponent, the warlord General Khalifa Haftar instead.

Human rights organisations, such as the Stockholm-based Skyline International, have also condemned the Egyptian government’s move. Moath Hamid, head of the Middle East and North Africa section of the organisation, stressed that “this is totally illegal,” citing the fact that there is “serious concern that the charges against the Anadolu Agency staff may be incorrect and malicious,” due to the tense political relationship between Turkey and Egypt.

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He also called on the Egyptian government to refrain from involving the media and journalists in the political disputes between the two nations, and linked the move to Egypt’s increasing crackdown against freedom of the press.

Since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi by field marshall, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, in 2013, Egypt has descended back into political chaos and has been under an authoritarian regime, which regularly conducts ‘forced disappearances’ and the arrests of any form of potential dissidence, including journalists. A number of other journalists, both international and national, have been arrested throughout recent years belonging to other news organisations such as Al Jazeera.

The same principle has been applied to this case, in which the Egyptian authorities conducted the raid and arrested the Anadolu Agency staff on the charges of what it calls its continued “support of terrorism”. Responding to Turkey’s statement of condemnation this morning, the Egyptian foreign ministry claimed that the media outlet was “illegal”, as it was allegedly founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, which Al-Sisi outlawed.

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