Offices belonging to 17 non-governmental organisations were simultaneously raided by Egyptian police and prosecutors in Cairo on Thursday.
Premises targeted belonged to pro-democracy and human rights groups, several funded from abroad, prompting fears of a crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.
At least three of the organisations receive money from the United States, which strongly criticised the operation.
Speaking from Washington US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: “We call on the Egyptian government to immediately end the harassment of NGOs, NGO’s staff, return all property and resolve this issue immediately.”
Following the raid, the American-funded International Republican Institute, known as IRI, released a statement saying it was ‘dismayed and disappointed’ by the actions of Egypt’s military rulers. The organisation went on to say it had never been targetted under former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The raids were in relation to permit violations, according to the prosecutors’ office.