(WASHINGTON) — The White House was taken aback Thursday by reports that Egypt’s military government sanctioned the raids of right groups in Cairo and elsewhere, including three U.S.-based organizations.
A spokesman for Egypt’s general prosecutor’s office said the 17 raids on at least 10 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) was in response to accusations that they were allegedly operating without licenses and had taken foreign money illegally.
But critics contend that the military regime that replaced ousted President Hosni Mubarak is simply trying to exert its authority over independent groups monitoring its activities.
The three U.S.-based entities were Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “This action is inconsistent with the bilateral cooperation we have had over many years.” She added, “We don’t think that this action is justified, and we want to see the harassment end, and we want to see the property returned and the staff allowed to proceed as normal.”
David Kramer, the president of Freedom House, was more critical of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces — the military chiefs now ruling Egypt — saying, “These actions come in the context of an intensive campaign by the Egyptian government to dismantle civil society through a politically motivated legal campaign aimed at preventing ‘illegal foreign funding’ of civil society operations in Egypt.”
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Georgia McCafferty and Junko Ogura, CNN
Ashley Fantz, AnneClaire Stapleton and Ed Payne, CNN Newswire