Germany-Syria: Damascus spying with European technology
7 November 2011
“Is Syria using German technology to spy on protestors?” asks Der Spiegel. The Hamburg weekly has looked into the matter following revelations by Bloomberg that surveillance equipment from Germany’s Utimaco computer firm, based in Oberursel, is being set up in Syria to “follow targets … in near-real time” and “map citizens’ networks of electronic contacts”.
Ultimaco denies having delivered its products directly to Syrian Telecom. It confirms, however, that it did sell equipment to the Italian firm Area, which it has worked with for years, but that cooperation has now been suspended pending clarifications of the destination and legality of Area’s exports.
In late October, a member of Germany’s leftist party Die Linke questioned the German government over the export of information technology equipment to autocratic and dictatorial regimes, citing the example of Utimaco: “In many states, surveillance technology is a cornerstone of repression”, he declared, in calling for more stringent export controls.