Paris public prosecution indicts executives of French companies for providing spyware to Sisi’s Egypt

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After a complaint by the International Federalism for Human Rights and Lawyers and Doctors for Human Rights, in collaboration with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Paris public prosecution indicted, on Tuesday, four executives of Amesys and Nexa Technologies for selling surveillance equipment to Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s authoritarian regime in Egypt.

This surveillance equipment was used for arresting opponents, who were subjected to enforced disappearance and torture.

Amesys was indicted in 2017, according to a complaint by the same human rights organisations, of selling surveillance programme Eagle to Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, which was used for identifying and arresting opponents, who were tortured. Amesys was placed as assisted witness and changed its name and shareholders thereafter to emerge with Nexa Technologies.

In 2017, French newspaper Télérama reported that previous executives of Amesys sold an updated version of Eagle, called Cerebro, to the Egyptian authorities. Cerebro uses deep packet inspection for comprehensive surveillance of communications including phone calls, messages, emails and social media activities. According to Télérama, the programme was sold to Advanced Middle East Systems FZ-LLC based in Dubai, which handed it over to the Egyptian Intelligence. The contract included after sales service including installation, management, making reports, follow up meetings and training visits every 45 days by technicians from Dubai and Paris.

After years of extensive investigations, the Paris public prosecution indicted the former head of Amesys, Philippe Vannier, Amesys’ former president Stéphane Salies, current Nexa’s president, Olivier Bohbot and Nexa’s managing director Renaud Roques. Over years, the Egyptian authorities used to spy on the citizens, and bluntly violate their privacy, rights and freedom of expression and use of internet, which are all protected by the Egyptian constitution.

Access Now recited a couple of programmes used by the Egyptian authorities to target activists, opponents, and civil society members. Such programmes included FinFisher, which was sold by the British Gamma Group to Mubarak’s regime for spying on communications. Another programme is ProxySG from US Blue Coat Systems, which can hack Whatsapp, Viber and Skype chats and calls and track the users.