Dictators used South African surveillance equipment says WikiLeaks

Moby Grape

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Hmm... so they found a pamphlet? How does that equate to supplying a dictator? Surely there is a paper trail etc. Perhaps Lybia / Egypt were being supplied by a middle-man who attends these conferences as a delegate from a country not on the 'banned' list. What exactly does this Wikileak article tell us in essence?

I hate speculation.
 

AniV

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Hmm... so they found a pamphlet? How does that equate to supplying a dictator? Surely there is a paper trail etc. Perhaps Lybia / Egypt were being supplied by a middle-man who attends these conferences as a delegate from a country not on the 'banned' list. What exactly does this Wikileak article tell us in essence?

I hate speculation.

Uhh, it wasn't speculation.
From the article:

According to WikiLeaks, VASTech’s equipment was also uncovered along with that of other companies in listening rooms in Egypt and Libya after the governments were overthrown this year.

So not just "a pamplet" or a presentation - actual VASTech equipment was on-site and being used.
 

Moby Grape

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Uhh, it wasn't speculation.
From the article:



So not just "a pamplet" or a presentation - actual VASTech equipment was on-site and being used.

Aaah... good point! Speculation, however, whether it was sold to Lybia and Egypt by VASTech or a third party. Quite possible, though speculation at this stage.
 

AniV

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Aaah... good point! Speculation, however, whether it was sold to Lybia and Egypt by VASTech or a third party. Quite possible, though speculation at this stage.

If it was being sold by a third party, then VASTech would not be supporting the systems. In a way, I have to say "Congrats to the SA company for being chosen as the preferred provider of spy equipment to international governments!" :D
I feel the fact that the Libyan government happens to be dictatorial and evil isn't VASTech's fault.

The reader should focus more on the fact that the evidence has come to light that the governments had this equipment and was using it, and less on the fact that it happened to be a South-African company chosen to provide legal equipment and services.
 

Jan

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Aaah... good point! Speculation, however, whether it was sold to Lybia and Egypt by VASTech or a third party. Quite possible, though speculation at this stage.

Based on my experience with government tenders, you know exactly where your equipment is going and what it will be used for, so it doesn't matter whether they were "just" a subcontractor.

That said, VASTech did explain that if sanctions are instituted against a country that they've already delivered equipment to they cease all support of their products there. Not sure if it's a legal requirement, but I know you can't sell into a country that has been sanctioned.
 

_TrXtR_

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I feel the fact that the Libyan government happens to be dictatorial and evil isn't VASTech's fault.

It didnt just happen. It had probably already happened before VASTech existed.
 

elvis_presley

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Congrats to the SA company for being chosen as the preferred provider of spy equipment to international governments

+1. I came here to say this. Nice to see local boys doing cool stuff! The technology sounds pretty awesome.

According to WikiLeaks, VASTech’s equipment was also uncovered along with that of other companies in listening rooms in Egypt and Libya after the governments were overthrown this year.

Yeah... there were probably routers from Cisco, airconditioners from Samsung, SAN arrays from EMC, etc. Tons of people sold Egypt weapons when they were "good guys".

Wikileaks are really being stupid singling out VAStech. What does "Secretly selling" mean? That you don't publicise all your invoices for the world to see? In that case, SPAR secretly sells beans to lots of people. We need to take them DOWN!
 

saksakgp

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''WikiLeaks makes special mention of Stellenbosch- based VASTech, saying that the company secretly sells equipment that can permanently record the phone calls of entire nations.''

lol. That is real power from SA guys. Congrats to them
 

skaapgif

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Legal? Yes. Ethical?

Based on my experience with government tenders, you know exactly where your equipment is going and what it will be used for, so it doesn't matter whether they were "just" a subcontractor.

It didnt just happen. It had probably already happened before VASTech existed.

It is clear that VASTech sold it's Zebra equipment directly to Libya's Government. Their product being designed for intercepting communications they also knew that it would be used to do exactly that. Did they do anything illegal? No, "William Barnard, chairman of VASTech, said that they supply systems to legal governments that are not under international sanctions of any kind". Sanctions imposed on Libya for the Lockerbie terrorist bombings were lifted in 2003 and there is therefore nothing illegal about VASTech's dealings.

The real question is about the ethics of their dealings. Is it ethical to sell spying equipment to a dictator who openly supports terrorist groups and has a 1 million USD bounty on his political opponents? Would you feel comfortable with your telephone and online conversations being monitored by a dictator who according to Amnesty International assasinated at least 25 people living abroad (countless people in libya) and has a 3 year prison sentence for having any "political conversation with foreigners"?

South Africa has many things to be proud of, one of them being our outstanding engineering talent. But when this talent is used to directly support the violation of human rights we should hang our heads in shame.
 

FNfal

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It is clear that VASTech sold it's Zebra equipment directly to Libya's Government. Their product being designed for intercepting communications they also knew that it would be used to do exactly that. Did they do anything illegal? No, "William Barnard, chairman of VASTech, said that they supply systems to legal governments that are not under international sanctions of any kind". Sanctions imposed on Libya for the Lockerbie terrorist bombings were lifted in 2003 and there is therefore nothing illegal about VASTech's dealings.

The real question is about the ethics of their dealings. Is it ethical to sell spying equipment to a dictator who openly supports terrorist groups and has a 1 million USD bounty on his political opponents? Would you feel comfortable with your telephone and online conversations being monitored by a dictator who according to Amnesty International assasinated at least 25 people living abroad (countless people in libya) and has a 3 year prison sentence for having any "political conversation with foreigners"?

South Africa has many things to be proud of, one of them being our outstanding engineering talent. But when this talent is used to directly support the violation of human rights we should hang our heads in shame.
The success in a business is what counts human rights don't pay the bills .as long as you abide by the rules of your country
 
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