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Interpol rejects Egypt call for NGOs staff arrest

Interpol, the international police organisation, Monday said it had rejected a call by Cairo for the arrest of 15 foreigners linked to non-governmental organisations operating in Egypt

AFP, Tuesday 24 Apr 2012
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The "request is not in conformity with Interpol's rules ... under which it is 'strictly forbidden for the organisation to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character'," France-based Interpol said in a statement on Monday.

In the run-up to Egypt's presidential election on May 23, Egyptian authorities have closed a number of NGOs, four of them American, on the grounds that they are not officially registered and receive money from abroad.

A number of foreigners working for the NGOs were charged before being allowed to leave the country, while Egyptians employees are to be tried.

Interpol said it would not call on member countries to arrest the 15 people wanted by Egypt -- 12 US citizens, two Lebanese and one Jordanian.

Egypt has refused to license eight US civil groups, including the election-monitoring Carter Centre, amid a crackdown on foreign NGOs, Egyptian state media reported Monday.

MENA news agency quoted a government source as saying it refused to license the groups because their activities were "inconsistent with the state's sovereignty on its lands."

Washington had complained of what it called rising "anti-American" statements in Egypt after an uprising ousted its close ally president Hosni Mubarak in February 11 and left the military in power.

The military also enjoys close ties with the United States, but a Mubarak-era minister in the cabinet it appointed who led the NGO crackdown accused Washington of trying to destabilise Egypt through civil society groups.

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