UPDATE 4 – Police raid Anadolu Agency office in Cairo, detain 4

UPDATES WITH STATEMENTS BY SENIOR FIGURES

By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

ANKARA (AA) – Egyptian police raided the Cairo office of Anadolu Agency, detaining four employees on Tuesday evening.

The detainees include one Turkish citizen, and were taken to an unknown destination.

Turkey strongly condemned the raid on Anadolu Agency's Cairo office, urging the immediate release of its employees.

"The raid to the Anadolu Agency’s Cairo office last night by the Egyptian security forces and the detention of some of the office workers without justification is an act of harassment and intimidation against the Turkish press, we strongly condemn it," Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"This act of violence against AA [Anadolu Agency] once again highlighted not only the negative approach of the Egyptian government to press freedom, but also its grave situation on democracy and transparency," the statement said.

"Western countries, which seem sensitive about the freedom of press and expression, have a role in this reckless attitude, by overlooking the condemnation of the violations in this country," it added.

Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also condemned the Egyptian authorities for their "hostile attitude towards the Turkish press".

"The hostile attempt of Egyptian coup d'etat towards the employees of Anadolu Agency is an indication of how insolent they are," Altun added.

Anadolu Agency's Director General Senol Kazanci also called for the immediate release of the employees.

"Egyptian authorities should immediately release AA employees," Kazanci said.

He also stressed the attitude of the Egyptian security forces towards the press was "unacceptable".

Several senior Turkish officials extended their support and conveyed their concerns to Anadolu Agency Chairman Senol Kazanci over the raid, including Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu, Education Minister Ziya Selcuk, main opposition party head Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop, Transport Minister Cahit Turhan and Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said Turkey expected the immediate release of the employees who he said were "illegally detained."

Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli slammed Egyptian police seizure of Anadolu Agency office as "unlawful".

Bahceli described Egyptian police's move as "a dark move" and a "clear insult" against Turkey.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party spokesman Omer Celik strongly condemned Egypt's seizure of the Anadolu Agency office in Cairo and detention of staff.

AK Party's deputy chairman Numan Kurtulmus called for the immediate release of the journalists, as well as an apology from Egypt.

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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.

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