US charges New York man with acting as Egyptian agent, tracking opponents of al-Sisi

 

January 06, 2022

 


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during a news conference in 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

 

By REUTERS

 

NEW YORK – A New York man has been indicted on charges he acted as an unregistered agent of Egypt’s government, including by tracking opponents of the country’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the US Department of Justice said on Thursday (Jan 6).

According to a two-count indictment, Pierre Girgis, 39, a dual Egyptian-US citizen living in Manhattan, operated between 2014 and April 2019 at the “direction and control” of multiple Egyptian government employees to advance the government’s interests in the United States.

Prosecutors said that in addition to monitoring Sisi’s critics, Girgis used his ties with local law enforcement to obtain nonpublic information, arranged benefits for Egyptian officials visiting Manhattan, and coordinated meetings between US and Egyptian law enforcement.

The Egyptian native’s activities included an alleged March 2019 effort to help visiting Egyptian officials attend police trainings in Manhattan that were meant only for law enforcement, prosecutors said.

Girgis was arrested on Thursday. A lawyer for him could not immediately be located.

Egyptian authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Justice Department has in recent years cracked down on unregistered foreign agents, including through increased enforcement, following decades of inactivity of a 1938 law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Girgis faces a charge of acting as a foreign government agent without notifying the US attorney-general, which carries a maximum 10-year prison term, and a related conspiracy charge that carries a maximum five-year term.

In a statement, US Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan called foreign agent registration laws “critically important to ensuring that our government is not secretly influenced by foreign governments.”