A report from the Wall Street Journal has accused Huawei technicians of aiding Ugandan and Zambia governments to spy on their political opponents, which eventually led to the arrest of the opponents.
The WSJ report reveals anonymous senior surveillance officers involved in the case. It also revealed that the investigation wasn’t able to connect a direct tie between the Chinese government or Huawei executives to the act. According to the report, there is confirmation that Huawei employees were involved with the act, suggesting that the employees acted on behalf of either Huawei or the Chinese government.
The report further revealed that there wasn’t any activity from Huawei’s technology that facilitated such activities.
However, there were records of coded messages, the use of apps like WhatsApp and Skype, and tracking opponents using cellular data.
It was alleged that Huawei engineers who worked in Uganda in 2018 used Pegasus spyware to infiltrate opposition leader, Bobi Wine’s WhatsApp. This infiltration was reportedly on a request of a Ugandan cyber-surveillance unit.
In Zambia, it was alleged that the engineers helped the government infiltrate the phones and Facebook pages of opposition bloggers, who ran a pro-opposition news site.
According to WSJ, a representative for Zambia’s ruling party confirmed that Huawei technicians have helped in the fight against news sites who oppose the country’s stance. The representative said, “Whenever we want to track down perpetrators of fake news, we ask Zicta, which is the lead agency. They work with Huawei to ensure that people don’t use our telecommunications space to spread fake news.”
Huawei in a statement to WSJ strongly rebuffed the statement saying; “Huawei rejects completely these unfounded and inaccurate allegations against our business operations. Our internal investigation shows clearly that Huawei and its employees have not been engaged in any of the activities alleged. We have neither the contract nor the capabilities to do so.” The company added that “code of business conduct prohibits any employees from undertaking any activities that would compromise our customers or end user’s data or privacy or that would breach any laws.”
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