WASHINGTON (AP) — A New York man has been arrested on charges that he worked as a secret and unregistered agent of the Egyptian government, including by sharing information with American law enforcement officials about political opponents of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Pierre Girgis, a 39-year-old dual national of Egypt and the United States, is charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the Justice Department, and with conspiring to do so.
It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.
A six-count indictment made public Thursday says Girgis acted at the “direction and control” of Egyptian government officials between at least 2014 and 2019. Prosecutors say he used his connections with U.S. law enforcement to collect non-public information that was shared with Egyptian contacts.
Girgis, who lives in Manhattan, is also accused of arranging meetings between Egyptian and American law enforcement officials, and of arranging for Egyptian officials to attend police training in the U.S.
In April 2017, according to the indictment, Girgis shared with a law enforcement officer in the United States information about an el-Sissi activist that he had received from an Egyptian government official. Months later, prosecutors say, he sent an identification card for a certain individual that he'd received from an Egyptian government official to a U.S. law enforcement official, and then shared with Cairo questions that he'd gotten from the American official.
An article on Inc.com describes a tourism-promoting trip to Cairo for about 100 New York City and Nassau County, New York, police officers that was co-organized by a Pierre Girgis, whom the piece identified as a Capital One banker of Egyptian descent. In the article, Girgis is quoted as saying the trip “carried an important international message of hope and cooperation.”
A spokeswoman for the bank did not immediately return a message seeking comment, but a person familiar with the case who was not authorized to discuss it by name confirmed on condition of anonymity that he worked for the bank.
The Justice Department has in recent years stepped up its criminal enforcement of statutes that mandate the registration with the Justice Department of people who act inside the U.S. as agents of a foreign government.
“The Department of Justice will not allow agents of foreign governments to operate in the United States to pursue and collect information about critics of those governments,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, the Justice Department's top national security official, said in a statement.
Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.
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Eric Tucker, The Associated Press