Cairo: Egypt on Wednesday revealed that its ambassador to Qatar was recalled and has been kept in Cairo for weeks now, a disclosure made hours after three Gulf allies recalled their envoys from Doha.

“The Egyptian ambassador in Doha has been in Cairo since the beginning of February,” said spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Badr Abdul Atti. “The decision to keep him is a political and sovereign decision due to objective reasons including (Qatar’s) continued interference in Egypt’s domestic affairs and failure to hand over Egyptians wanted [in] criminal trials,” he added in a press statement.

Earlier this year, Egypt summoned the Qatari ambassador in Cairo to protest Doha’s condemnation of a security crackdown on supporters of the deposed Islamist president Mohammad Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group.

Relations between the two Arab countries have seriously deteriorated since July last year when the army toppled Mursi, of whom Qatar is a staunch political and financial supporter.

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain — firm backers of Egypt’s new rulers — on Wednesday said they were withdrawing their envoys from Qatar, accusing the latter of meddling in their affairs and threatening their security.

“The decision reflects these sisterly countries’ rejection of and reservations about the Qatari stances and policy,” said Abdul Atti. “They saw it fit to direct a message similar to that repeatedly sent by Egypt on the necessity of Qatar’s full compliance with non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.”

Kuwait has unsuccessfully tried in recent months to mend Qatari-Egyptian ties ahead of an annual Arab League summit it will host later this month.

Egyptian government and media have repeatedly accused Qatar and its TV network Al Jazeera of being biased to Mursi and the Brotherhood.

In December, Egyptian authorities arrested several Al Jazeera journalists, including former BBC correspondent Peter Greste, and charged them with spreading false news and aiding the Brotherhood, already designated by Egypt as a terrorist organisation.