How Ethiopia Spies On Its Diaspora Abroad

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

Written by Felix Horne | From WSJ.com

Many Europeans are upset over revelations that the United States government spies on them. But European companies are selling surveillance tools and know-how to other governments, allowing them to spy abroad. Their customers include some of the world’s most abusive governments and at least one of them—Ethiopia —is targeting its diaspora population in Europe. The results extend beyond outrage over privacy violations: They put people in danger.

The global trade in this powerful “spyware” is virtually unregulated and that needs to change. Using digital technology to monitor the Ethiopian diaspora in Europe, the regime in Addis Ababa has brought its abuses right into Europe’s midst. The EU needs to regulate the sale of such technology, at least to governments with such questionable human-rights records.

Inside Ethiopia, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s government abuses mobile and Internet networks to monitor opposition groups and journalists, and to silence dissenting voices. Using Chinese-made telecom equipment, the Ethiopian security agencies have nearly unfettered access to civilians’ phone records and recorded calls. Taped calls have been played back to people being interrogated by security officials and used against them in trials under the government’s deeply flawed antiterrorism law.

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