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Egypt bars US-based civil society groups


Egypt has rejected a request from eight US-based civil society groups for licences to operate in the country after a crackdown on their activities sparked the first diplomatic spat with Washington since the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak.

In a move that might damage Cairo's relations with Washington, the Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry rejected the applications because it believed the groups' activities violated state sovereignty, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported on Monday.

MENA said requests from the Carter Center for Human Rights, Coptic Orphans, Seeds of Peace and other groups had been rejected.

"I don't understand how a charity group like the Coptic Orphans, which works with over 35 churches in Egypt to provide medical and social aid, was rejected," said the group's lawyer, Negad al-Borai.

Sanne van den Bergh, field office director for the Carter Center in Egypt, said the group had not been formally notified of the decision to deny it a licence "but we are aware of the media reports about it and we are looking into them".

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