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  • France sold Sisi surveillance systems that led to the arrest and torture of opponents

    The site continued to publish new secrets in what it called “Egypt Papers” (Mohamed Al-Shahed/AFP)

    The Egyptian authorities blocked the investigative website, Disclose, hours after it published an investigation into France’s involvement in intelligence assistance to Egypt, which led to the targeting of civilians on the Libyan border.

    On Wednesday, the website continued to publish new secrets in what it called “Egypt Papers”, and revealed in a new report that the giant French arms company “Dassault”, affiliated with Thales and Nexa Technologies, sold “a mass surveillance system to the dictatorship of Field Marshal Sisi, with the blessing of the French state.” site says.

    The site interviewed the Egyptian youth Ahmed Alaa, who was imprisoned without any form of trial, in 2017, and the regime accused him of posting a picture of him online under the rainbow flag, the symbol of the “gay community”, at an underground rock concert in Cairo on the 22nd. September of that year.

    A picture spread on the Internet in Egypt led to the young man being accused by the regime of “immorality” and belonging to an “illegal group”. After 80 days of detention, he was released without further explanation, and he was physically and mentally ill, so he packed his bags and fled the country to Toronto, Canada, where he was met by “Disclose” for a long talk.

    Sitting in the Canadian living room with refugee friends like himself, Alaa recalls events when state media repeatedly broadcast his face on television, threats on social media, and then the few days he hid in a small town far from Cairo, where he believed he was safely.

    “When the police arrested me, I quickly realized that my phone had been bugged and that my social media activity was being monitored. No one can escape from them,” he says.

    Over the past five years, political opponents, journalists, NGO leaders, gays and strikers, and all those who do not think or live according to the principles of the military regime, have been at risk of imprisonment. It is said that approximately 65,000 dissidents are languishing in the regime’s prisons, while “Another 3,000 disappeared after their arrest, according to the US State Department.”

    The site added that “the unprecedented suppression of Egyptian civil society was facilitated by a massive cyber surveillance system set up by three French companies, with the tacit approval of the authorities, the first called Nexa Technologies, run by the founders of AMISIS. Amesys, a company that was supplying surveillance equipment to the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya, and the second Ercom-Suneris, a subsidiary of Thales Since 2019, it has been known to be responsible for the security of one of Emmanuel Macron’s mobile phones, and the third is none other than Dassault System Dassault SystèmesThe technological branch of the French heavy weapons manufacturer, which manufactured the Rafale aircraft, which it sold to Egypt.

    According to an investigation conducted in partnership with TeleramaIn 2014, these three technology companies came together around a project to monitor populations beyond normal borders, and the last piece of this massive spying building was a super-powerful search engine built by Dassault System. ExaleadIt, as is well known, enabled the different databases to be linked together on behalf of the regime’s shadowy military intelligence service.

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    The site said that “to consolidate the power that he obtained by force in July 2013, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi can count on two important allies. On the one hand, the French state, one of his main Western partners, provided diplomatic, military and commercial support, and the United Arab Emirates, on the one hand. Another, according to the site’s information, put 150 million euros on the table in 2013 to provide Field Marshal Sisi with the missing ingredient in his repressive arsenal, “digital espionage.”

    According to the site, the French small and medium-sized company has a significant advantage, “since 2012 it has had a commercial arm based in the UAE, and on March 24, 2014, the company’s directors, Stéphane Salles and Olivier Bohbot, won a contract worth 11.4 million euros to install its pioneering program Brain In Cairo”.

    According to a confidential document obtained by Disclose, Mr Brain Capable of “analyzing data to understand suspects’ relationships and behavior, and going back in time to find relevant information in billions of recorded conversations.” The necklace was called “Toblerone”, after the pyramid-shaped Swiss chocolate.

    Following this, Stefan Salles, CEO of Nexa, Emiratis to “bring .” Ercom-Suneris, and winning the grand prize.” In the summer of 2014, Pierre-Mayoul Bdeir, CEO of Ercom, a contract worth approximately 15 million euros to “spy on Egyptians, and the Egyptian army was primarily interested in one feature: geolocation of its targets in real time using software Cortex Vortex“It’s like a spy movie,” says the site, a former engineer at ErcomHe spoke to the site, on condition of anonymity, saying, “You can geolocate anyone by triangulating the location of the base stations their phone is connected to, even without making any calls.”

    According to Disclose’s information, Dassault System participated in the project at the same time with its two counterparts, as the owner of the project. Exalead, a super-powerful search engine, and the group seemed to be the ideal partner for centralizing the millions of information collected by French small and medium-sized companies and the system, making the digital database of Egyptian ID cards and passports available to them. Group employees traveled to Cairo five times between October 2015 and the end of 2016 to supervise the installation of ExaleadEgyptian intelligence officers were also trained in Paris.

    New data centers

    The site says that “to ensure that the system works perfectly, the Egyptian dictatorship did not skimp on equipment, as it provided completely new data centers, and the latest generation of computers Dell, and “huge servers” from the company DDN American. In Alexandria, the army also had electronic components installed on submarine cables that connect the country to the Internet for better monitoring. As for the command center for this, it was the “Egyptian National Security Apparatus”, from a location in Cairo, at the Almaza military base, 10 kilometers from the presidential palace,” according to the site’s leaks.

    The site notes that “in order to gain freedom of action in Egypt, French cyber surveillance experts had to seek the approval of the French state and the dual-use goods control unit (SBDU). In other words, the control of civilian technologies that can be misused for military or repressive purposes, such as surveillance programs.”

    He adds that in July 2014, the . unit was implemented SBDU, under the authority of Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of Economy, by NexaTechnologies as part of a contractTobleroneAccording to the file provided to SBDU And got it company DiscloseThe company confirmed, “Providing services to Egypt related to the implementation of the legal intellectual property interception system in the context of combating terrorism and crime,” and the contract included 550 installation days and 200 hours of training.

    The site says that the State Security Administration was reassured and considered that the case did not require further investigation, and on October 10, 2014, the application stamped “Not in place” in the lower right corner. He added, “It seems that the Ministry of Economy did not find any problem in exporting programs Brain to one of the most repressive countries in the world,” according to the Disclose website.

    The site notes that in the fall of 2014, it was the turn of the company Ercom-Suneris To demand the state’s approval to export the wiretapping system. The management of Nexa Technologies today clarifies that “if the French state had had the slightest doubt about supplying Cerebro to the Egyptian state, it would have refused to export the technology and opposed the sale.”

    The site says that after revealing his accomplices, the justice system opened a judicial investigation against Nexa and its administration for “complicity in acts of torture and enforced disappearance” in Libya and Egypt. According to the information, on October 12, 2021, the technology company Nexa was charged with “complicity in torture and enforced disappearances in Egypt between 2014 and 2021.” On 17 June, Stéphane Salles and Olivier Bohbot were indicted.

    Find this story at 24 November 2021