Egypt probes civil groups’ funding amid US tension

The legal arm of a notorious Egyptian intelligence apparatus is probing foreign funding of civil society groups amid signs of tensions between Washington and Egypt's ruling generals, judicial sources said on Friday.

The investigation by the State Security prosecution, which belonged to the State Security Investigations apparatus that was disbanded in March for human rights abuses, is in its fourth day, the sources said.

The probe, which the sources said was focusing on US funding, came as Washington said it had raised concerns with the military about "anti-Americanism" in Egypt.

The US embassy said on Friday that USAID director Jim Bever had left his post in Egypt, but denied his departure was due to "anti-American sentiment."

A cabinet source told AFP that the investigation was first launched last month by the ministry of international cooperation after the newly appointed US ambassador to Cairo, Anne Patterson, said the US distributed US$40 million to NGOs since a January revolt that toppled Mubarak.

The initial probe came amid a spike in tensions between the military and activists who want a speedier transition to civilian rule.

The military has described the activists as foreign funded, an accusation that resonated in a country where there is abundant suspicion of foreign plots.

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