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Ethiopia Used Israeli Company Spyware to Monitor Dissidents - Report

Ethiopia-SpywareDecember 6, 2017 - Ethiopia has been using the services of Israeli software security company called Elbit Systems to eavesdrop on EThiopian opposition figures living in the United States, Canada, Germany and other places, according to reports from Citizen Lab, US News & World Report, Wired.com, and several other media organizations.

According to the reports, in 2016 and 2017, individuals in Canada, United States, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, and other countries began to receive suspicious emails. The emails contained links, which when clicked, were meant to download monitoring software onto target computers. One such email was received by Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo activist living in the US. He forwarded the email to Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, an organization that tries to protect political activists from hacks and spyware.

Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs said it found evidence Ethiopian dissidents in Britain, the United States and other nations were targeted with emails seeking to infect their computers with surveillance tools from Elbit's Cyberbit unit.

Elbit shares fell 1 percent in midday Nasdaq trade, compared with a 0.1 percent rise in the Nasdaq Composite Index. They dropped 1.3 percent in Tel Aviv.

Citizen Lab, which helps human rights activists defend themselves against spy software, earlier this year reported on attacks in Mexico using spyware produced by Israel's NSO Group. It has also reported on previous campaigns using other surveillance tools to target Ethiopians.

A Cyberbit representative declined to comment on the claims from Citizen Lab.

The company issued a statement saying it only sells surveillance products to law enforcement, defense, intelligence and national security agencies approved by the Israeli government.

"The intelligence and defences agencies that purchase these products are obligated to use them in accordance with the applicable law," it said.

Ethiopian Communications Minister Negeri Lencho declined comment on the report.

Source: Citizen Lab, US News & World Report, Wired


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