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Ethiopian Political Refugee Accuses his Own Government of Using Spyware

Itnews.com.au reported on 19th February, 2014 stating that an Ethiopian political expatriate has filed an illegal complaint against a secret surveillance of government for planting spyware on his PC.

The victim, Tadesse Kersmo and Privacy International which is a group defending the right to privacy and fights against surveillance by government and corporations across the world, filed the grievance with the cybercrime unit of UK National Crime Agency asking them to explore the unlawful interception of communications by governments across the world using a little-renowned malware known as FinFisher.

Itnews.com.au published a report on 19th February, 2014 quoting Kersmo as saying, "I became suspicious when I found files from my computer on the Internet and also found evidence that my computer has been infected with FinSpy. I became conscious of a report in 2013 which said that Comms Technologies and Human Rights Origination Citizenlab have acknowledged a sample of FinFisher malware."

The sample contained pictures of associates of an Ethiopian opposition faction called Ginbot 7 that were used in an email to lure users to infect their PCs.

Citizenlab and Privacy International found the image of Kersmo among the pictures exploited and analyzed that his PC had been tainted with the infamous spyware back in June 2012, that is, 3 years after leaving Ethiopia and being granted asylum in Britain by the British government.

Kersmo alleges that the spyware monitored his emails, Skype calls and his web browsing history.

Independent.co.uk published a report on 17th February, 2014 quoting Eric King, Head of Research for Privacy International as saying, "Even when someone avoids prosecution in their own country, western-made surveillance technologies like FinSpy can be used by repressive regimes to monitor the moves of political activists anywhere around the world."

Voanews.com reported on 17th February, 2014 quoting the denial of allegations by Dina Mufti, Spokesman of Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, as saying, "There is freedom of speech which everyone is entitled to and this is the core of our rules and procedures. There is also freedom of expression and hacking is not our business. Regarding the allegation, I cannot say anything to journalists."

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