Anadolu Agency head recounts raid on Cairo office

By Merve Yildizalp Ozmen

ANKARA (AA) – Anadolu Agency's director-general on Thursday shared the details on a raid on the agency's office in the Egyptian capital Cairo in which four staff members were detained, as well as how Egyptian media framed the incident.

On Tuesday, Egyptian police raided Anadolu Agency's Cairo office and detained four staff members, taking them to an unknown location.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency Editors' Desk in the capital Ankara, Senol Kazanci said the incident took place two days ago, at around 5.00-6.00 p.m. local time [1500-1600GMT], on Jan. 14.

"A group of police wearing official uniforms came to our Cairo Office via minibus. There were our five staff members at the office," Kazanci said.

Recounting that the agency's headquarters in Ankara had been informed on the incident after half an hour, he said they later contacted Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

"At midnight, police released one of the staff members, a woman, but four others were taken to a location we still don't know," he said.

Kazanci said the agency had not been able to contact Egyptian authorities at this time, and were further unable to confirm the incident even took place.

Noting the immense support received from Turkey's presidential office, as well as all the country's political parties, the agency's colleagues in the news media and the Turkey people, he said several international organizations also called for the release of the journalists, condemning the incident.

No statement from the Egyptian Interior Ministry has been made so far, Kazanci said, but news about the raid was leaked to the press from the ministry on Wednesday night.

– Portrayed as 'cell house'

Kazanci said a story published in the Egyptian media described Anadolu Agency as a "terror cell house" in its headline.

He added that the report covered the incident "without calling it [office] a news agency or mentioning the journalists."

"They also used 4 photos," Kazanci said.

Saying the incident was "saddening,” Kazanci said: "Police shared one photo with the media, showing gas masks that our reporters keep as a precautionary measure as if they were offensive tools that were seized and as if it was an illegal organization."

The second photo shows technical tools including cameras inside a wardrobe, the other photo shows an Anadolu Agency flag and another shows only a Turkish flag, Kazanci said.

The story also stressed that the Anadolu Agency staff — three Egyptians and one Turkish national — were arrested for being members of a terror group without mentioning that they were journalists, he added.

During his remarks, Kazanci said he hoped the issue would be resolved as soon as possible.

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By Handan Kazanci

ANKARA (AA) - Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.

- Coronavirus in Turkey

Turkey on Thursday confirmed 926 additional recoveries as the country began easing measures against the novel coronavirus, according to the country’s health minister.

The total number of recoveries from the disease hit 131,778 as 926 more patients were discharged from hospitals over the past day, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, citing Health Ministry data.

The country's death toll from the outbreak rose to 4,630 as Turkey reported 21 new fatalities over the last 24 hours.

Turkey conducted over 54,000 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the total tally to more than 2.2 million, said Koca.

Meanwhile, Turkey plans to resume international flights to 40 countries gradually as of June 10, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said Thursday.

International flights from Turkey will carry passengers first to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Qatar and Greece, Karaismailoglu said in a statement.

Turkey suspended all international flights on March 28 amid COVID-19-related travel restrictions worldwide.

- Global coronavirus developments

A low death toll was once again recorded Thursday as France recovers from the coronavirus pandemic which plagued the country over the last three months, according to the latest statistics reported by the Health Ministry.

The country registered a total of 46 deaths in hospitals Thursday, a drop of 39 cases over those reported Wednesday.

Italy on Thursday reported 88 more fatalities from the pandemic, bringing the death toll to 33,689 as authorities unveiled new guidelines to prevent crowded summer spots like beach resorts from becoming new virus hotbeds.

The slowing trend in the number of deaths registered in May continued in early June, confirming that the peak of the crisis has been passed.

Face masks on English public transport will be mandatory from June 15, the British government announced Thursday, as a further 176 people died from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours.

British authorities announced that the UK-wide death toll from COVID-19 is now 39,904.

As Spain prepares for its state of emergency over COVID-19 to last until June 21, the Health Ministry reported Thursday that 195 more people were infected with the coronavirus and five more had died.

The number of infections diagnosed Wednesday was down slightly from the 219 people who tested positive Tuesday but up from Monday and Sunday. In total, 240,660 infections have been confirmed in the country.

Health officials in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza announced Thursday the arrival of medical supplies sent by Turkey to help fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra confirmed that two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines had been delivered for detecting the virus.

- George Floyd Memorial service

Hundreds of mourners on Thursday attended the first of several memorials for George Floyd – an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody on May 25.

The service at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota was attended by Floyd's family and Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the family, as well as celebrity guests.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday urged demonstrators joining protests over the death of George Floyd to get tested for the novel coronavirus.

Speaking at his daily press briefing, Cuomo said around 30,000 people have taken part in the statewide protests demanding justice for the killing of the unarmed black man in police custody.

Of them, 20,000 were involved in rallies in New York City.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged citizens not to overlook the racism problem in Germany while intensely discussing racism and police brutality in the US after the death of George Floyd.

"This murder of George Floyd is very, very terrible. Racism is something terrible,” Merkel said Thursday evening in an exclusive interview with public broadcaster ZDF.

“Racism has always been present, but sadly we also have this [problem]. We should first sweep in front of our own door,” she stressed.

- Other developments

Turkey and Libya plan to advance cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, including exploration and drilling activities, to further benefit from natural resources, Turkey’s president said in a meeting with Libya’s prime minister Thursday.

The meeting between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez al-Sarraj took place at the presidential palace in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Erdogan said Turkey and Libya have reached a consensus on expanding their cooperation areas on the territory of Libya.