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Egyptian police detain four Turkish news agency employees in raid

Reason for arrest of Anadolu staff remains unclear, with Ankara enraged by the move
Egyptian police arrested the Anadolu employees early Wednesday (AFP)
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Ankara

Egyptian police have raided Turkish public news wire Anadolu Agency’s Cairo office and detained four employees, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

Anadolu said that police took the employees, including a Turkish citizen, to an unknown place early on Wednesday.

“They didn’t give any explanation or show any reason for the detentions,” Anadolu's deputy general manager Metin Mutanoglu told Middle East Eye. “At the moment, we don’t have much information on the background.”

According to the Anadolu statement, its Cairo office's administrative supervisor Hilmi Balci, a Turkish citizen, Hussein al-Qabani, Hussein al-Abbas and AbdelSalam Mohamed were under arrest. 

The Turkish foreign ministry strongly condemned Egypt for detaining Anadolu employees.

'They didn’t give any explanation or show any reason for the detentions'

- Metin Mutanoglu, Anadolu Agency

“Raiding the bureau and detaining some of the personnel without showing any reason is an act of harassment and intimidation against the Turkish press,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We expect Egyptian authorities to immediately release all detained employees, including a Turkish citizen.”

The ministry also criticised western countries “who are in appearance sensitive about press freedom” but at the same time “turn a blind eye to [rights] violations” in Egypt, which "contributed" to Cairo's "reckless" act. 

The Turkish foreign ministry has summoned Egypt’s charge d’affaires in Ankara.

Media reports said Turkish Charge D'affaires Kemalettin Eruygur is engaged with the Egyptian authorities, attempting to resolve the matter.

Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish president's communications director, also condemned the act, calling it "yet more proof of the incompetency of the coupist Egyptian government". 

Turkey and Egypt have been on bad terms since the 2013 military coup that toppled Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

Ankara has not dispatched an ambassador to Cairo since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seized power.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly told media that he wouldn't meet Sisi under any condition. Sisi blames Ankara for providing a safe haven for Muslim Brotherhood leaders, who are designated terrorists by Cairo. 

Last year, Egyptian authorities also arrested three Turkish citizens for more than 20 days and allegedly tortured one of them at the hands of the notorious National Security Agency.