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UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) – The United Nations is concerned that Egypt has detained four Anadolu Agency journalists and urges Cairo to provide information about them and release them, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a press briefing on Thursday.
“We are aware the reports that Egyptian security forces raided Anadolu offices in Cairo and arrested four journalists, including one Turkish national, and then they detained them in an unknown location,” Dujarric said. “We are concerned about these developments as well as the whereabouts and welfare of those who have been detained. We would want to see their release or at least have information as to their whereabouts.”
Dujarric also said that Egypt, a party to the international human rights treaties, has a responsibility under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect members of the media and ensure they are free to impart information.
Egypt’s State Information Service said that Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has been functioning in Egypt illegally since its office was shut down back in 2013 due to the agency’s employees “abusing” the privileges outlined in their accreditation.
“Since then, the Anadolu agency has had no legal presence in Egypt, while all attempts by the Turkish Embassy to accredit the agency’s correspondents have been rejected. Any state has the right to deny [accreditation requests], ” the service said in a statement, obtained by Sputnik.
According to Egypt’s information service, those detained have played a role in “implementing Turkey’s hostile policy toward Egypt.” It, at the same time, reaffirmed its commitment to the freedom of speech, saying that Cairo had previously never shut down foreign news agencies nor deported journalists. It therefore accused the Turkish Foreign Ministry of “misleading the public.”
Anadolu director general Senol Kazanci, meanwhile, announced that Egypt had released one of those detained – Hilmi Balci, a Turkish citizen.
On Wednesday, the Turkish news agency reported that the Egyptian police had searched its office in Cairo. The Egyptian Interior Ministry announced shortly thereafter that it had detained four members of the so-called electronic media committee over their alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood terror group (banned both in Egypt and Russia), including one Turkish national. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the detentions and summoned the Egyptian charge d’affaires.
Egypt and Turkey have had a tense relationship in part due to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the short-lived Islamist government of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, which was overthrown in 2013.