CYPRUS: Questions raised over multimillion spy van cruising Larnaca

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A multimillion spy van with the capability of hacking any mobile phone is cruising around Larnaca igniting the reaction of opposition parties for Cyprus to do something about it.

Forbes reported that an ex-Israeli intelligence officer is driving around in a GMC-type black ambulance turned surveillance unit with EUR 9 mln worth of spying equipment, in a short video documentary which has gone viral.

Israeli Tal Dilian, CEO of a spyware company called Intellexa, explains that his van and its state-of-the-art equipment can monitor mobile phones and other electronic devices within a 500-metre radius.

Dilian told Forbes he can hack any phone and retrieve intel and listen into conversations regardless of the level of security that phone may have. He claims that he is selling information to governments.

Opposition AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou urged the government to intervene at once and confiscate the spyware.

In a written statement on Friday, Kyprianou said this equipment "has enormous capabilities, since it can infiltrate phones and electronic devices hundreds of meters away, recognising the human voice, and even operating the devices".

He called on the government to answer five “puzzling” questions.

·         How and why was such equipment brought to Cyprus?

·         How and after what kind of checks was it cleared?

·         Under what law does it operate and provide services?

·         With whose approval is this spyware used and who is it tracking?

·         Which individuals have been targeted by this surveillance system?

In response, government spokesperson Prodromos Prodromou issued a statement saying the businessman portrayed in the Forbes report, is an Israeli national operating a company in Cyprus with Cypriot shareholders and registered with the Company Registrar.

“Some of the advertised products are imported to Cyprus under Law 82/1967 on Customs and Excise and as amended since then. Violation of the law provides for fines as well as imprisonment and / or confiscation of products,” noted Prodromou.

He said Cyprus police are looking into the matter.