September 29, 2020

Merkel press office staffer ‘worked for years for Egyptian intelligence’

Issued on: 10/07/2020 – 09:21

A former employee of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s press office was discharged in December last year on suspicions that he was spying for Egypt, according to a government report seen by German media on Thursday. 

Advertising

Police carried out “executive measures” against the man in December 2019 after he was found to have “worked for years for an Egyptian intelligence service”, according to the report. 

The Federal Public Prosecutor confirmed that the man was charged on suspicion of espionage and that the investigation is ongoing.

Local newspaper Bild said the man worked for the visitor service of the federal government press office (BPA), headed by Merkel‘s spokesman Steffen Seibert

He was a mid-level employee, meaning he would have completed an exam and at least two years of vocational training.

The premises of the visitor service were searched as part of the investigation, Bild reported.

A spokesman for the BPA told AFP it would not comment on ongoing investigations or personnel matters.

The main tasks of Egyptian secret service agents in Germany include gathering information about members of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the government report. 

They are also interested in members of the Coptic Christian community and in recruiting Egyptian nationals as spies, it said. 

“There are indications that Egyptian services are trying to recruit Egyptians living in Germany for intelligence purposes through their visits to Egyptian diplomatic missions in Germany and their trips to Egypt,” the report said. 

Aside from a brief interlude following the popular uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt has been ruled by the military since 1952. 

The army is highly visible in Egypt’s public life, with former top brass currently serving as ministers and heading governorates.

Current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi led the army’s overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against the Islamist leader’s rule.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)