Sal. Oca 21st, 2020

Anadolu Agency head recounts raid on Cairo office

– Senol Kazanci voices hope for journalists to be released as soon as possible

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.