Germany and the US have expressed great concern over Egyptian raids on non-government organizations. Human rights groups are describing the raids as a campaign against them by the country's military rulers.
Berlin has summoned Egypt's ambassador over raids carried out by Egyptian police on offices of pro-democracy and human rights groups in Cairo.
Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a group with close ties to the ruling Christian Democrat Union party, was among the 17 international organizations whose offices were raided Thursday in the Egyptian capital.
Germany's Foreign office reacted with "great concern," saying the organization had been active in Egypt without problem for years.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Thursday said he expected "that the issue be sorted out as quickly as possible so that the Foundation may continue its work as quickly as possible without obstruction."
Mistrust of foreign-funded groups is rife in Egypt
US funds at stake
In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing that the US was "deeply concerned that Egyptian judicial and police officials raided the offices of a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) today."
"This action is inconsistent with the bilateral cooperation we have had over many years," Nuland said. “We call on the Egyptian government to immediately end the harassment of NGO staff, return all property and resolve this issue immediately."
Nuland also indicated that the $1.3 billion (1 billion euros) in direct aid that the US gives Egypt's military could be reconsidered if the situation did not improve.
Foreign funds probe
The official MENA news agency said the raids were part of an investigation into alleged illicit foreign funding of the organizations. No arrests were reported, but the authorities reportedly confiscated equipment and documents.
Egyptian authorities have been blaming foreign-funded groups for political unrest in the country after Hosni Mubarak was ousted as president in a February uprising.
The raided offices included those of the US-based International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Freedom House, a democratic watchdog group.
In a statement, NDI President Kenneth Wollack said, "Cracking down on organizations whose sole purpose is to support the democratic process during Egypt's historic transition sends a disturbing signal."
Both NDI and IRI have been monitoring Egyptian elections.
Author: Timothy Jones (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: David Levitz