Three French companies have sold massive digital surveillance tools to Egypt

Several French companies have provided massive digital surveillance tools to the Egyptian regime, according to an online media survey Disclose and of the magazine Telerama. According to the two media, Nexa Technologies, Ercom-Suneris and Dassault Systèmes signed agreements with Egypt at the end of 2014. Sales that raise questions, while the Egyptian regime is accused of human rights violations. man: Egypt has some 60,000 political prisoners, according to NGOs, since Marshal Sisi came to power in 2013.

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Nexa Technologies and its sister company – they have the same executives – Advanced Middle East Systems, based in Dubai, supplied an Internet traffic monitoring system called Cerebro, under a contract called Toblerone and signed on March 24, 2014 for an amount of more than 11 million euros. In his application for an export license, sent in May 2014 to the French Ministry of the Economy and that Disclose and Telerama have procured, Nexa mentions a “IP legal interception system in the context of the fight against terrorism and crime”.

Leaders already indicted

The involvement of these companies in the sale of surveillance equipment and solutions to Egypt was already known: their managers were also indicted in June for complicity in acts of torture and enforced disappearances.

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A second French company has been recommended to the Egyptian authorities by Nexa Technologies to provide an additional service: it is Ercom-Suneris, a company acquired by the French defense giant Thalès in 2019. For 15 million euros, it provides Cairo with the means to listen to telephone conversations and geolocate mobile phones.

Finally, to explore the large amount of data collected and make the link with other databases held by the Egyptian regime, a third company has joined the team: Dassault Systèmes, a subsidiary of the defense group of the same name specializing in digital technologies. , provided a search engine called Exalead. Its installation was carried out between 2015 and the end of 2016, according to Disclose and Telerama.

The French state was aware

This monitoring device was funded, write the two media, through the United Arab Emirates. “The order from the Egyptian state reached us through an Emirati company who contacted us and told us about this need”, recognizes Nexa Technologies in a message addressed to Disclose.

Thalès and Dassault did not answer questions from Disclose and Telerama.

The French state was fully aware of this sale. Indeed, this type of surveillance technology must be the subject of an export license. Nexa Technologies therefore submitted to the Ministry of the Economy a request concerning the services of« installation » and of ” project management “ to Advanced Middle East Systems, which provided Egypt with the actual monitoring service.

The Ministry of the Economy, which was then headed by Emmanuel Macron, did not oppose it. In the fall of 2014, he also gave his approval to Ercom-Suneris. Solicited by Disclose and Telerama, the cabinet of Bruno Le Maire did not wish to speak.

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Three French companies have sold massive digital surveillance tools to Egypt