Sale of surveillance technology to Egypt: Paris Prosecutor asked to open a criminal investigation

Reflets Info

Paris, 9 November 2017 – This morning, FIDH and the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (France), with the support of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, filed a criminal complaint relating to the potential role - via the sale of surveillance technology - of the French company Amesys (renamed Nexa Technologies) in widespread oppression under the Al-Sissi regime. The complaint was filed with the specialised unit responsible for prosecuting crimes against humanity in France. This request for the opening of a criminal investigation for complicity to torture and enforced disappearance follows revelations published by the newspaper Télérama, and supplements the investigation already underway on the sale of surveillance technology to Gaddafi’s Libya.

On 5 July 2017, Télérama revealed that Amesys had “changed its name and shareholder in order to sell its services to the new Egyptian authorities while the French state stands and looks on”. A press conference was organised at FIDH headquarters in Paris with the journalist who published these revelations: Olivier Tesquet.

This morning, FIDH filed a complaint (“dénonciation") with the specialised unit responsible for prosecuting crimes against humanity within the Paris Prosecutor’s office, requesting that a criminal investigation be opened for complicity to torture and enforced disappearances in Egypt. On 19 October 2011, our organisations first filed a complaint against Amesys following revelations published in the Wall Street Journal and WikiLeaks. In 2013, FIDH organised for Libyan victims of the Gaddafi regime to come to France and testify before the investigating judges as to how they were tracked down, arrested and then tortured. In May 2017, Amesys was formally placed under the status of assisted witness (“témoin assisté) for complicity to torture committed in Libya between 2007 and 2011.

“Despite being pursued by judicial authorities in France, the former managers of Amesys decided to continue selling their surveillance technologies to oppressive regimes! It is time for the French justice system to act so that they stop their criminal activities.”

Patrick Baudouin, FIDH lawyer and honorary President

However, the opening of criminal proceedings alone would not mask the lack of political willingness on the part of the French authorities, who should have prevented the export of “dual-use” surveillance technologies by the former managers of Amesys to Egypt, where oppression has been in full swing since General Al-Sisi’s coup d’état.

"Even though the French President just welcomed his Egyptian counterpart with great pomp, we are still astounded by the attitude of successive French governments, who have encouraged the sale of weapons to a regime heading straight for authoritarianism, and closed their eyes to the sale of equipment that facilitates the tracking and arrest of opposition and civil society.”

Michel Tubiana, lawyer and Honorary President of the Ligue des droits de l’Homme

“With hundreds disappeared and tens of thousands of political prisoners currently in detention across the country, living under the systematic practice of torture and summary executions at the hands of the military and security forces, we hope that a criminal investigation will be opened in France so that the voice of Egyptian victims will be heard by the French justice system, especially given the instrumentalisation of the Egyptian judiciary, currently under the full control of President Sisi and an additional tool for repression.”

Bahey Eldin Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
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