Raided American Groups Rebut Egyptian Accusations
Two American democracy-building organizations accused Egypt’s military-led government of a campaign of false statements about their activities and history, ratcheting up a confrontation between Washington and Cairo over police raids that shut down the groups’ offices.
The raids were part of an investigation into accusations that the groups and eight other nonprofit rights organizations were illegally receiving foreign financial support to influence Egypt’s politics or undermine its security. But the two organizations, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, are especially significant in part because they are closely allied with the Congressional party caucuses and are financed primarily by the United States government.
By virtue of that association, the raids by the Egyptian police — who confiscated files, money and computers — amounted to a pointed snub to Washington, a major Egyptian donor and ally. The raids followed a drumbeat of suggestions from the government that Washington was funneling money to groups here in order to destabilize the country — a pattern of complaints that American officials have denounced as creeping “anti-Americanism.”
The two groups’ public rebuttal follows a confusing diplomatic back-and-forth. On Saturday, American officials said that both Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Ambassador Anne W. Patterson had received assurances that the raids would stop and that the property would be returned. But the next day, Egyptian officials in charge of the matter said that the raids were proper because the organizations had broken Egyptian laws by interfering in Egyptian politics.
United States officials have not yet addressed the apparent contradictions.