Two United States democracy-building organisations have accused Egypt's military-led government of having made out 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 non-profit rights organisations were illegally receiving foreign financial support to influence Egypt's politics or undermine its security.

But the two organisations, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) are especially significant, in part because they are closely allied with the congressional party caucuses and are financed primarily by the U.S. 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 Egypt government that Washington was funnelling money to groups in Cairo in order to destabilise the country — a pattern of complaints that U.S. officials have denounced as creeping “anti-Americanism”.

The two groups' public rebuttal follows a confusing diplomatic back-and-forth. On Saturday, U.S. officials said that both Secretary of Defence 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 organisations had broken Egyptian laws by interfering in Egyptian politics.

U.S. officials have not yet addressed the apparent contradictions.

But on Monday, both institutes issued detailed responses to show that they had complied with Egyptian law and remained politically neutral. — New York Times News Service

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