(Bloomberg) -- Egyptian police raided the Turkish state news agency’s office in Cairo and detained four employees, a move that may strain already fraught relations between the regional rivals.
Turkey’s foreign ministry condemned the raid as an act of “intimidation and harassment,” and demanded those detained late Tuesday be freed immediately. Anadolu Agency said they included a Turkish citizen.
The Egyptian interior ministry said in an emailed statement that the four individuals, three Egyptians and one Turkish citizen, were Muslim Brotherhood members backed by Turkey and were arrested for spreading false and fabricated disinformation.
Egypt foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said his country rejected Turkey’s statement. All actions taken by Egyptian authorities had been carried out in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations, he said in an emailed statement.
The two countries have frequently been on rival sides of regional conflicts between Islamists and their opponents. Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to haul the Egyptian government before international courts after his jailed Islamist ally, former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, collapsed during a courtroom appearance and later died.
Recently, Turkey’s decision to send troops to Libya in support of the United Nations-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj threatened to deepen a growing proxy war pitting Ankara against Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who support eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has come under fire for what rights groups say is a harsh crackdown on dissent. El-Sisi’s critics say he’s sharply curtailed freedoms since his 2014 election, widening a clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood to activists and journalists. Turkey itself is ranked the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists by a global watchdog.
Authorities in Egypt have previously arrested reporters with the pan-Arab al-Jazeera network, which is funded by Qatar. The Gulf state was a key backer of Mursi, who was ousted by El-Sisi in 2013 after a military-backed popular uprising.
(Adds Egyptian foreign ministry’s comment in fourth paragraph)
--With assistance from Zaid Sabah.
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