How Huawei helped Museveni spy on Bobi Wine- Report
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Huawei technicians helped authorities in Uganda to penetrate a WhatsApp chat group in which musician and politician Bobi Wine is a member of.
It is alleged that Ugandan authorities used messages in the said WhatsApp group to prevent street rallies from taking place and arrested Wine and dozens of his supporters.
According to the report, Bobi Wine, a fierce critic of President Yoweri Museveni, had returned from Washington and Uganda’s cyber-surveillance unit had strict orders to intercept his encrypted communications, using the broad powers of a 2010 law that gives the government the ability “to secure its multidimensional interests.”
The report further indicates that a team, based on the third floor of the capital’s police headquarters, spent days trying to penetrate Mr Wine’s WhatsApp and Skype communications using spyware, but failed. Then they asked for help from some staff members from Huawei, Uganda’s top digital supplier.
“The Huawei technicians worked for two days and helped us puncture through,” said one senior officer at the surveillance unit.
The Wall Street Journal further revealed that the Huawei engineers used spyware to penetrate Mr Wine’s WhatsApp chat group, named Firebase crew after his band. And as a result, authorities scuttled Wine’s plans to organize street rallies and arrested the politician and dozens of his supporters.
However, the investigation did not find that Huawei executives in China knew of, directed or approved the activities described. But it offers evidence that Huawei employees played a direct role in government efforts to intercept the private communications of opponents.
In a written statement from Huawei spokesperson, the company denied the allegations saying that Huawei has “never been engaged in ‘hacking’ activities.
“Huawei rejects completely these unfounded and inaccurate allegations against our business operations. Our internal investigation shows clearly that Huawei and its employees have not been engaged in any of the activities alleged. We have neither the contracts nor the capabilities, to do so,” read part of the statement.
The spokesman added: “Huawei’s code of business conduct prohibits any employees from undertaking any activities that would compromise our customers or end-users data or privacy or that would breach any laws. Huawei prides itself on its compliance with local regulations and laws in all markets where it operates.”