US accuses New York man of monitoring opponents of Egypt’s Sisi

US Justice Department costs Pierre Girgis with appearing as a international agent for Egypt with out notifying US authorities.

Authorities within the United States have arrested an Egyptian-American man from New York on allegations that he unlawfully labored on the behest of the Egyptian authorities to trace the “political opponents” of the nation’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The US Justice Department mentioned it took Pierre Girgis, 39, into custody on Thursday.

Girgis is charged with conspiring to behave as a international agent and appearing as a international agent with out notifying the US legal professional common’s workplace – counts that might carry as much as 5 and 10 years in jail, respectively.

“Agents of foreign countries are required to register with our government for a good reason – they often act in their home country’s interests and against those of the United States,” Michael J Driscoll, assistant director-in-charge on the FBI’s New York subject workplace, mentioned in a press release.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh ShoukryUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry as a part of the US-Egypt strategic dialogue in Washington, DC, in November 2021 [File: Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

“We allege Mr. Girgis sent non-public information back to Egypt for the benefit of the Egyptian government. Mr. Girgis broke our laws, and we must hold him accountable.”

The Justice Department mentioned Girgis labored “at the direction and control of multiple officials” in Egypt to assemble data on Egyptian dissidents. The alleged actions befell between 2014 and 2019, the division mentioned.

“At the behest of Egyptian officials, Girgis’s alleged prohibited conduct included attempting to covertly gather non-public intelligence about the activities of political opponents of Egypt’s president, and attempting to gain access for foreign officials to attend law enforcement-only trainings in Manhattan,” US Attorney Damian Williams additionally mentioned.

Al Jazeera was unable to reach Girgis or his attorneys. The Egyptian embassy in Washington, DC, didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Thursday.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a 1938 US regulation, requires people engaged on behalf of international governments within the United States to register with the Justice Department and to publicly disclose their political actions periodically.

The US and Egypt take pleasure in heat ties, with Washington giving $1.3bn in army help to Cairo yearly and high US officers praising the Egyptian authorities for enjoying a key position within the Middle East.

But US President Joe Biden has confronted calls to do extra to strain Egypt to respect human rights.

Rights teams accuse el-Sisi’s authorities of jailing 1000’s of dissidents and outlawing nearly all types of political opposition since coming to energy in a 2013 coup. However, the Egyptian president denies holding political detainees and says his authorities is combating “terrorism”.

Biden had promised to place human rights on the coronary heart of US international coverage, and earlier than the 2020 elections, he promised “no more blank cheques to [Donald] Trump’s ‘favourite dictator’” in reference to el-Sisi.

But since coming into workplace, the Biden administration has mentioned it’s pushing to strengthen the US-Egypt partnership.

Biden withheld $130m out of the $1.3bn in annual help to Egypt over human rights issues, however rights teams had referred to as for suspending at the least $300m.

“If the administration’s dedication to human rights were sincere, this decision would have been simple: withhold the $300 million in military aid as conditioned by Congress to incentivize al-Sisi to change course,” a coalition of organisations mentioned in September.


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