By Ferdi Turkten, Selma Kasap and Omer Olcay
ANKARA (AA) – Anadolu Agency's deputy director general said they have received information that their staff, detained in a police raid on their Cairo office, was interrogated by Egyptian prosecutors.
“Now, we received the news that our colleagues were investigated by Egypt's prosecution office,” Metin Mutanoglu, who is also the editor-in-chief of the agency, told a live broadcast of local TRT News channel on Wednesday.
Egyptian police raided the Cairo office of Anadolu Agency late Tuesday and detained four employees, including a Turkish citizen. They were taken to an unknown destination.
Turkey strongly condemned the move and called for their immediate release.
Mutanoglu stated that Egypt’s official news agency accused Anadolu Agency and its workers of reporting fake news and working against the interests of Egypt, according to the information it received from Egypt’s Interior Ministry.
“We understand that they have detained our colleagues with nonsensical claims. This is a new development,” he said, noting that Egyptian authorities have not responded to any of the initiatives by the Foreign Ministry following the raid.
“According to this new statement, they made an explanation that an investigation is carried out with a claim that AA [Anadolu Agency] is against the national interests of Egypt and that it pictures a bad image for Egypt outside,” Mutanoglu said.
He noted that Egypt has done the same thing to the media outlets it wanted to silence, adding it closed down many local and foreign media outlets.
“They are doing the same thing to us,” he said.
Mutanoglu emphasized that Anadolu Agency is a very prestigious news agency in the Arab world, and added: “Because Anadolu Agency is known for its impartiality. It is known for the in-depth content in its news. It is known for making all parties speak.”
He noted that Egypt's presidency had been a subscriber of Anadolu Agency until a few years ago.
“This is an important information,” Mutanoglu said, adding that the agency is not concerned with the interests of Egypt.
“We are a media outlet and we, of course, have a duty to report the events taking place there as it is,” he said.
– Egypt administration never approved accreditation
Speaking on the claims of lack of documents, Mutanoglu recalled that the country’s first freely-elected President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power in a coup and died during trial on "espionage" charges last year.
“We are an institution which has always kept complete documents and got accredited until 2013 [military coup],” he said, adding that their applications are lying with the Egyptian administration but they have neither rejected nor accepted them.
“They say ‘You can work’, but they do not formalize it and leave it like that,” he said, adding that the agency’s office has been operating there for eight years and each year it completes all necessary documents.
“Egypt's administration never approached us for accreditation. This is not just about us, they do this against all foreign media,” he noted.
Mutanoglu said two years ago, Anadolu Agency offered Egypt's news agency to work together and work to develop and improve Egypt-Turkey relations and the offer was welcomed.
He noted that today there is a putschist administration in Egypt which silences all voices that speak against it.
“Therefore, the fact that they did not give us a license in this sense does not prevent our work,” he said, adding that the agency pays its tax to Egypt without any delay as well as the taxes of the workers.
Mutanoglu said there is no problem regarding the documents and the agency always submits its application.
“But they are against Anadolu Agency and all other foreign media since the day of coup,” he noted.
* Writing by Sena Guler