UK, German firms aid Bahrain crackdown

UK, German firms aid Bahrain crackdown
Wed Feb 6, 2013 08:40:08

Rights groups accuses a British and a German company of assisting Bahraini regime in its brutal crackdown on protesters by providing Manama with spy technology.

Human rights groups say the Gamma International UK and an unnamed German company have exported specialist surveillance software to Bahrain to help the country's security services hack into the emails of protesters and monitor their activities.

The campaigners are set to file complaint with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, alleging that the two companies have breached OECD guidelines on human rights by exporting the technology to the oppressive regime of Bahrain.

"If both companies did in fact export surveillance software to the Bahraini government, and are continuing to maintain these technologies for use by the Bahraini authorities, the complainants believe this would make them culpable of aiding and abetting the Bahraini government in its perpetration of human rights abuses…. In so doing, it is argued the companies are in breach of OECD guidelines concerning human rights," the complaint stated. 

According to rights groups, Gamma's FinFisher (or FinSpy) suite of software products "is a particularly dangerous and sophisticated piece of surveillance technology," that is difficult to detect. The software targets individuals' devices and then relays information back to the sender, including the contents of all emails, Skype conversations and address books.

Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy; a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its crackdown on popular protests.

Bahrainis say they will continue holding anti-regime demonstrations until their demands for the establishment of a democratically-elected government and an end to rights violations are met.

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