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Bahrain Watch: How Bahrain Obtained Italian Surveillance Programs

2015-12-05 - 12:27 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Bahrain Watch revealed, in an article it published on its website, "how, in 2014, the government of Bahrain obtained Hacking Team's Remote Control System (RCS)."

Bahrain Watch said that "Wikileaks published a searchable database of over a million emails which were leaked from the company's servers. More than 1300 emails mention Bahrain."

They revealed how, in 2014, the government of Bahrain obtained Hacking Team's Remote Control System (RCS).
It added that "a Dubai-based IT company, called MidworldPro, acted as an intermediary between Bahrain's Ministry of Interior (MOI) and Hacking Team". It further stated that "MidworldPro paid Hacking Team €210,000 Euros for a one-year pilot programme of RCS to be tested by the MOI's Cyber Crime Department (CCD)."

"The emails also reveal that Israeli surveillance company NICE Systems was acting as another intermediary between Hacking Team and Bahrain's National Security Apparatus (NSA) and Bahrain Defence Force (BDF)," it said.

The organization also highlighted that "in the past, Hacking Team issued public statements claiming that it "goes to great lengths" to ensure that its software is not sold to repressive regimes." However, Bahrain Watch said that "Reporters without Borders has designated both the government of Bahrain and Hacking Team as Enemies of the Internet."

"Hacking Team went ahead with supplying the Bahraini government with spyware despite the fact it knew of its continued violations of basic human rights," it added.

Bahrain Watch pointed out that "Hacking Team hired Bird & Bird legal services to write a report on Bahrain and check whether there were any legal limitations to selling it spyware, specifically under Italian law."

It further stated that "the report, submitted in October 2013, mentions that there are no legal restrictions at the time, but points out that various NGOs and international bodies have criticized the Bahraini government for its ongoing human rights violations stating that "Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the European Parliament in its resolution of 12 September 2013, repeatedly found that the country's policies and actions are in violation of human rights and in particular violations of freedom of expression (...) as well as abuses by the police, accused of excessive use of torture and ill-treatment of government opponents.""

Bahrain Watch published at the end of its report a list summarizing the main points from the leaked emails which relate to the procurement of RCS by Bahrain's government. Among them were the calls between the Bahraini Ministry of Interior and representatives from Hacking Team between December 13, 2015 and December 15, 2014. It is noteworthy that the emails of the Bahraini Ministry of Interior with MidworldPro were highlighted in green and those with Nice Systems were highlighted in blue.

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