Cyprus government slammed for inaction on spying scandal

The tech security company which developed the controversial Predator spyware that was used to spy on a Greek politician and journalists is currently owned by an Israeli businessman based in Cyprus

August 23, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Surveillance Scam - Cyprus
(Photo: via AKEL)

Progressive sections in the Republic of Cyprus have slammed the center-right government for its inaction on the involvement of Cypriot companies in the Predator spyware surveillance controversy that rocked Greece recently. On August 17, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) accused the government of not paying heed to the democratic and institutional violations in surveillance through spywares. Several investigative reports have exposed the targeted surveillance of investigative journalists and a major opposition leader in Greece using a spyware called Predator, developed by a cyber tech company named Cytrox which was acquired by a Cyprus-based tech security company.

Revelations on targeted surveillance through the Predator spyware targeting Greek opposition politician Nikos Androulakis and certain investigative journalists led to shock and outrage in Greece. According to a report by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which conducts extensive independent research on cyber security, the Predator spyware is developed by Cytrox which started in North Macedonia in 2017. According to reports, in 2018, Cytrox was acquired by the Cyprus-based company WiSpears/Passitora Ltd., owned by Tal Dilian, the CEO of Intellexa and a former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Unit 81 commander.  In 2019, the Cyprus police arrested three employees of Dilian’s WiSpear company over suspicions of using a high-tech surveillance van to intercept communications. However, prosecution was subsequently dropped by the attorney-general. Phileleftheros reported that the surveillance scam in Greece is connected to tech security developers currently based in Cyprus, who were also involved in the surveillance van controversy.

In its statement on August 17, AKEL said that “until a few days ago, the Cyprus government responded with contempt to the growing concern about the surveillance scandal that is shaking the whole of Europe. It has now been documented that the surveillance scandal is directly linked to Cyprus. It is not only AKEL which says this – the internationally recognized research department of the University of Toronto, Citizen Lab, says so, the international and Cypriot media says so, the European Parliament and many others discuss the issue.”

“A dark web has long been revealed, dangerous for democracy and the rule of law, and those who have had to protect institutions and democracy are either involved or do not understand the democratic and institutional aberration that these phenomena constitute. Whatever the case, however, it is dangerous. That is why the matter must be made clear immediately,” AKEL added.