Germany warns its delegation about Egyptian spies at COP27

Germany warns its delegation about Egyptian spies at COP27

BERLIN, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Germany’s federal police have warned their country’s delegation at the COP27 environment summit in Egypt that their members could be exposed to espionage by Egyptian security agents, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

In an email sent out on Saturday, the police, known in Germany as the BKA, warned delegates against “overt and covert surveillance through photography and videography” by Egyptian agents, said one of the people quoting from the email.

Remarks by Chancellor Olaf Scholz about Egypt’s human rights record last week provoked threats of surveillance, the person said.

Reuters has not seen the email sent by the police. Two other officials in Germany confirmed the warning’s existence but declined to elaborate on the exact wording.

There was no immediate response to requests for comment from Egypt’s COP27 presidency or the state information service, which handles relations with foreign media.

A spokesman for the German police declined to comment.

In the warning, police said the delegates’ conversations may be recorded and that people close to the Egyptian state may try to disrupt events organized by the Germans “through provocative actions,” the person quoted the email as saying.

Three German participants at COP27 from NGOs and industry said they had received verbal warnings of possible surveillance from other participants and delegations.

Two NGO members told Reuters what they saw as suspicious activity taking place occasionally over the past few days, including activity photographed and followed. One of them was Susann Scherbarth from the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland. The other was with the Climate Action Network but wished to remain anonymous. Reuters could not independently confirm their accounts.

An official with Germany’s foreign ministry said it expects participants “to be able to work and negotiate in safe conditions”.

“We are in constant contact with the Egyptian side about this,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, Scholz said he had raised with the COP27 hosts the issue of jailed hunger striker Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a prominent activist and blogger who was sentenced to five years in prison for spreading false news.

“A decision has to be made, a release has to be made possible, so that the hunger striker doesn’t die,” Scholz told reporters.

The Egyptian government has announced that prison authorities will provide medical care to Abd el-Fattah.

Reporting by Markus Wacket in Berlin and Tom Sims in Frankfurt. Editing by David Evans and Frances Kerry

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