German police have cancelled a scheduled workshop with Egyptian security officials on how to monitor extremist websites for fear they would use the skills acquired to target other groups in the country, according to a report by the Associated Press.
German security authorities have collaborated with their Egyptian counterparts on numerous occasions, providing material and technical aid on combatting extremist groups and people smugglers.
However, heightened concerns about Egypt’s human rights abuses have prompted German officials to suspend training on web monitoring for fear that the information could facilitate the ongoing crackdown “on other groups” in the country.
Egypt’s clampdown on freedom of expression has extended to social media and other communication platforms, restricting journalism and political activism. This has been justified by the government as necessary in the search for members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which it has designated a terrorist organisation.
The Egyptian government has also launched a crackdown on anyone suspected of opposing President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi or his policies and has implemented laws that affect vocal media organisations, journalists and NGOs.
The European Parliament has urged its member countries to stop providing surveillance systems to Egypt on several occasions over the past four years; this has not extended to an outright ban on surveillance training.
Despite action from Germany, UK officials have continued to train Egypt’s security forces; on Sunday workshops were held for prosecutors on how to tackle cases of human trafficking. A report in August also revealed that the UK government gave almost £2 million ($2.6 million) to fund Egypt’s defence and security projects. The aid would specifically go towards policing, the criminal justice system and the treatment of juvenile detainees.