Germany warns delegation against Egyptian spies at COP27

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BERLIN (Reuters) – German federal police have warned their country’s delegation to the COP27 environmental summit in Egypt that its members could be spied on by Egyptian security agents, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

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

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s comments last week about Egypt’s human rights record prompted the threat of surveillance, the person said.

Reuters did not view the email sent by the police. Two other officials in Germany confirmed the existence of the warning, although they declined to elaborate on its specific 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 German police spokesman declined to comment.

In the warning, police said delegates could have their conversations recorded and people close to the Egyptian state could try to disrupt German-sponsored events “through provocative actions”, the person quoted in the statement said. the email.

Three German COP27 attendees from non-governmental organizations and industry said they had received verbal warnings from other attendees and delegations of possible surveillance.

Two NGO workers told Reuters what they considered suspicious activity that has happened repeatedly in recent days, including being photographed and followed. One was Susann Scherbarth from the German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation. The other was with the Climate Action Network but wished to remain anonymous. Reuters was unable to independently confirm their accounts.

A German Foreign Ministry official said he expected the participants “to be able to work and negotiate in safe conditions”.

“To this end, we are in continuous exchange with the Egyptian side,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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

“A decision must be made, a release must be made possible, so that it does not result in the hunger striker dying,” Scholz told reporters.

The Egyptian government said prison authorities would provide health 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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