COP27 Scandal: Egypt Rejects Accusations of Espionage and Disrupting Events

Essay by Eric Worrall

Who could have guessed that a dictator accused of routine mass violation of human rights would allegedly spy on delegates and interfere with human rights events?

‘Imprecise, inaccurate, ludicrous’: Egypt dismisses accusations of spying at climate talks as distraction

By Nick O’Malley
November 15, 2022 — 6.30am

Sharm el Sheikh: A senior Egyptian official has dismissed allegations of covert surveillance being deployed against dissenters at the COP27 climate talks, suggesting the allegations were made as a political distraction.

German media has reported that the German government complained that Egyptian security staff were reported to have monitored and filmed events held at the German pavilion inside the summit venue in Sharm el Sheikh, while Reuters has reported that German federal police have warned its delegates that they may be getting spied on by the host country’s security agents.

Some of the events hosted by Germany at the COP relate to human rights rather than climate change and the German Press Agency reported that Egyptian officials took photographs and videos and disrupted proceedings on at least two occasions.

“We expect all participants in the UN climate conference to be able to work and negotiate under safe conditions,” Germany’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “This is not just true for the German but for all delegations, as well as representatives of civil society and the media.”

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Al Jazeera also accused Egypt of promoting an espionage spyware event app.

‘Weaponised app’: Is Egypt spying on COP27 delegates’ phones?

Security analysts warn smartphone app for Sharm el-Sheikh climate talks could be used for spying as it has ‘highly intrusive’ access to locations, conversations and images.

By Beatrice Zemelyte
Published On 12 Nov 202212 Nov 2022

Cybersecurity concerns have been raised at the United Nations’ COP27 climate talks over an official smartphone app that reportedly has carte blanche to monitor locations, private conversations and photographs.

About 35,000 people are expected to attend the two-week climate conference in Egypt, and the app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times on Google Play, including by officials from France, Germany and Canada.

Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology developed the app for the summit’s delegates.

It is meant to assist attendees in smoothly navigating the conference, but “the government of Egypt may have weaponised the app and now has the ability to surveil all of the summit attendees”, David Bader, an expert in data science and cybersecurity, told Al Jazeera.

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I’m sure espionage scandals are nothing new to COP conference events. My question is, why has this suddenly become a public issue?

Perhaps Germany doesn’t like the Egyptian regime and has triggered an agitated response from Egypt through a principled decision to hilight Egypt’s alleged human rights issues.

But there is a small but intriguing possibility delegates might be manoeuvring to blame Egypt for the COP27 failure to produce a meaningful climate agreement, as part of an attempt to deflect blame for the failure, and perhaps to destabilise the el-Sisi regime.

Egypt’s dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, despite accusations of mass human rights violations, is a US ally. I’m no fan of el-Sisi, it is unfortunate that successive US administrations seem to find it geopolitically necessary to support Egypt’s el-Sisi, as they supported Hosni Mubarak before him.

But if el-Sisi is toppled, US regional interests could suffer a significant setback. Other nations might see the resulting chaos as an opportunity to grow their influence in the region.

Despite ongoing US support, the el-Sisi regime might be vulnerable. The apparent uptick in alleged human rights abuses over the last few years could be a sign he is losing his grip on power.

via Watts Up With That?

November 15, 2022

COP27 Scandal: Egypt Rejects Accusations of Espionage and Disrupting Events — Watts Up With That?