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HomeEUGermany Charges Four for Selling Spyware to Turkey

Germany Charges Four for Selling Spyware to Turkey

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German prosecutors have charged four former company executives with illegally selling software to Turkey’s secret services for use to spy on the country’s opposition, officials said on Monday.

The suspects were from FinFisher, a Munich-based company developing and selling spyware to law enforcement agencies and intelligence services.

They are charged with breaking laws that ban the sale of “dual-use” products — which can be used for both civilian and military purposes — to countries outside the European Union, unless authorities grant approval.

According to Munich prosecutors, the company allegedly signed a contract worth over five million euros ($5.4 million) in 2015 to sell monitoring software to Turkish secret services, along with training and support.

In 2017, the “FinSpy” software was offered to a Turkish opposition movement for download from a fake website “under false pretences, in order to spy on them”, the prosecutors said.

The spyware allows its users to gain control of computers and smartphones, and monitor communications.

In an effort to hide FinFisher’s involvement, a Bulgarian company was named on the contract as the seller of the spyware.

Neither the German nor the Bulgarian authorities issued a licence for the export of the software, the prosecutors said.

German authorities began investigating after four NGOs that defend press freedom and human rights filed complaints in 2019.

The charges were filed in Munich district court earlier this month.

Concerns about the use of spyware have been growing since a 2017 investigation into Pegasus software by a consortium of media outlets.

It found Pegasus was used in various countries to spy on 180 journalists, 600 politicians, 85 rights activists and 65 business executives.

Source: Barrons

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