The enormous dump of docs from cyber-arms-dealer Hacking Team continues to yield up details, like the time the company tried to sell spying tools to a death squad.
The death squad in question is Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion, who asked for a demo of Hacking Team's surveillance tools. Hacking Team bid on the project through a local reseller, who assured them he was "pushing RAB to select our offer through our personal relationship."
They also demoed their tools for the secret police of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Some of their most unsavory deals were laundered through Nice Systems, an Israeli company that sold Hacking Team products in Azerbaijan -- a notorious human-rights abuser -- and pitched them in "Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Kuwait, Finland, Georgia, Greece, India, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kirghistan."
An internal presentation describes Hacking Team's best nation-state customers, starting with Mexico, and including Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Vietnam, Russia, Honduras, Ethiopia and Egypt. However, UK spy agencies and police forces never bought Hacking Team's products, despite strong interest, because London's police force was worried that Hacking Team was too dodgy for them. But UK cops kept flirting with Hacking Team, getting demos of keylogging spyware, and covertly monitoring wifi access points.
Finally, Hacking Team presented a state-of-the-world talk to the surveillance industry in South Africa where they attacked human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Privacy International, and demonizing "democracy advocates" more generally.
One of Hacking Team’s key corporate partners is Nice Systems, an Israel-based company with close links to Israeli military and intelligence agencies. (CEO Barak Eilam, for instance, was formerly an officer with an “elite intelligence unit” in the Israeli Defense Forces, according to his biography. Eilam’s LinkedIn profile links him to Unit 8200, Israel’s signals intelligence corps.) The leaked Hacking Team documents show that Nice has been working on closing a large number of deals for the company across the world, winning contracts in Azerbaijan and Thailand and pushing for sales in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Kuwait, Finland, Georgia, Greece, India, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kirghistan, and elsewhere.
Hacking Team had not responded to a request for comment on this story at time of publication. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the company told the International Business Times: “We don’t have anything to hide about what we are doing and we don’t think that there is any evidence in this 400GB of data that we have violated any laws and I would even go so far as to argue that there is no evidence that we have behaved in anything but a completely ethical way.”
According to the hacked files, Hacking Team’s top sales in recent years have come from governments and law enforcement agencies in these countries, in descending order of sales: Mexico, Italy, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Hungary, Malaysia, UAE, the United States, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Panama, Ethiopia, Egypt, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, South Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Spain, Ecuador, Oman, Switzerland, Thailand, Russia, Nigeria, Turkey, Cyprus, Honduras, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Poland, and Bahrain.
Hacking Team Emails Expose Proposed Death Squad Deal, Secret UK Sales Push, and Much More [Ryan Gallagher/The Intercept]
(Icon: Rapid Action Battalion (04), Nahid Sultan, CC-BY-SA)