Egypt: European Parliament Calls for Ban On Spy Technology Export to Egypt

The European parliament yesterday called for a ban of surveillance and military technology to Egypt. MEPs stated that they were "deeply concerned" about recent events that, they said, impacted democracy and free expression in the country.

In the ruling MEPs expressed what they called "their deepest concern and alarm" over the Egyptian government's treatment of opposition forces, protesters and journalists. They demanded a common strategy be agreed on by European Union (EU) nations when dealing with Egypt.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

The parliament called for an EU-wide ban on any technologies that could be used to spy on Egyptian citizens.

MEPs also cited the Wassenaar Arrangement on the export of arms and related technolgies to call for a ban on equipment that could be used for suppressing peaceful protests.

The motion encouraged representatives of the EU to send embassy staff in Cairo to politically sensitive trials of journalists and civil society activists.

Article 65 of the Egyptian constitution guarantees freedom of thought and opinion - but the EU criticised Egypt after observing an alleged lack of respect for these rights on the ground, leading to a climate of limited free expression and journalistic self-censorship.

The ruling cited the recent trial of three journalists, including two foreign nationals, who worked for Qatar's Al Jazeera TV and the confirmation of death sentences against 183 people.

It also said that Egyptian government officials acknowledged that authorities have detained more than 16,000 individuals, including 1,000 protesters, since January of this year.

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