Huawei Technologies Co. employees helped African governments in Uganda and Zambia to spy on their political opponents, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The cybersecurity experts helped retrieve encrypted communications and used cell phone data to track the whereabouts of targets, sources told the Journal amid its investigation.
“The big question has been whether Chinese companies are just doing this for the money, or whether they’re pushing a specific kind of surveillance agenda,” digital surveillance expert from Boise State University and former State Department Africa specialist Steven Feldstein told the Journal. “This would suggest it’s the latter.”
In one instance, Ugandan intelligence infiltrated Bobi Wine’s WhatsApp and Skype communications after he returned from Washington with the U.S. backing for his opposition of longtime Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, according to the report.
“Uganda’s cyber-surveillance unit had strict orders to intercept his encrypted communications, using the broad powers of a 2010 law that gives the government the ability ‘to secure its multidimensional interests,'” the Journal reported.
In Zambia, Huawei techies helped the government access phones and Facebook pages of opposition bloggers running a website that was critical of President Edgar Lungu, per the Journal.
“Huawei rejects completely these unfounded and inaccurate allegations against our business operations,” a company spokesman wrote in a statement to the Journal. “Our internal investigation shows clearly that Huawei and its employees have not been engaged in any of the activities alleged. We have neither the contracts, nor the capabilities, to do so.
“Huawei’s code of business conduct prohibits any employees from undertaking any activities that would compromise our customers or end users data or privacy or that would breach any laws. Huawei prides itself on its compliance with local regulations and laws in all markets where it operates.”
The U.S. government has claimed China has control over Huawei that could allow it to spy on other countries, although the Journal investigation “didn’t turn up evidence of spying by or on behalf of Beijing in Africa,” according to the report.
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Source:: Daily Times