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Germans explain how to dismantle a secret police

Germany is famous for the finely crafted products that it ships across the world, but German and Egyptian officials met Monday to discuss a considerably different export: expertise on how to dismantle a feared domestic spying agency.

world Updated: Mar 29, 2011 23:49 IST
The Washington Post

Germany is famous for the finely crafted products that it ships across the world, but German and Egyptian officials met Monday to discuss a considerably different export: expertise on how to dismantle a feared domestic spying agency.

President Hosni Mubarak stepped down barely a month and a half ago, and the powerful state security organisation that helped bolster his almost 30-year reign by infiltrating all aspects of Egyptian life has not disappeared.

Workers still stream in and out of its heavily guarded suburban Cairo headquarters. Protesters stormed the building this month when they heard that employees were destroying records of their activities.

Two decades ago, East Germans faced a similar situation when Communist rule collapsed, leaving behind the vast Stasi spying agency. Germany established a large agency to deal with the Stasi documents, keeping them inaccessible to the public but allowing individuals to see files pertaining to themselves. The agency also does background checks on candidates for parliament to ensure they never worked for the Stasi.

"It looks like something a rich country can do," said Mostafa Hussein, 30, another protester. "We will see what happens in Egypt."

(In association with The Washington Post. For additional content from The Washington Post, visit www.washingtonpost.com)