News

July 10, 2020

Egyptian spy discovered in Angela Merkel’s press office

The German authorities are investigating a suspected Egyptian spy who was working in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s press office and had access to information about Egyptian exile journalists. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities to make sure this information was not used to silence President El-Sisi’s critics in Egypt.

According to a German interior ministry report published yesterday, a federal press office employee was found to have been working for Egyptian intelligence for years. The investigation into this employee began last December, the authorities said.

 

According to a government spokesman quote by the daily Bild, the man worked in the press office visitor service. As part of his duties, he would have had access to information about Egyptian journalists living in self-imposed exile in Germany who are accredited with the press office.

 

"It’s outrageous that the long arm of El-Sisi’s brutal regime could even possibly be threatening Egyptian journalists in German exile,” said Christian Mihr, the director of RSF’s German section.  “The German government must now make sure that data of Egyptian journalists obtained by the suspect has not been used to silence critics back in Egypt. Once more this shows that El-Sisi is an enemy of press freedom and cannot be a partner for the German government."

 

Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk, added: “We have already known for years that the Egyptian authorities flout the confidentiality of journalists’ sources by spying on their communications. The fact that, through agents abroad, they can use information about exile journalists just reinforces the climate of terror in which they work.”

 

Egypt is ranked 166th out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.