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22 Jun 2021

Sarah Elzas, RFI

French executives of Amesys and Nexa Technologies face torture charges for selling spy gear to Libya, Egypt

... Investigating magistrates in the war crimes unit of the Paris tribunal have charged the former chief of Amesys, Philippe Vannier, and three current and former executives of Nexa Technologies, with "complicity in acts of torture”... Judicial sources confirmed that Philippe Vannier, who was CEO of Amesys until 2010, was charged in connection with selling equipment to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi. Olivier Bohbot, the president of Nexa, along with the company’s director general, Renaud Roques, and former president Stephane Salies, were charged with "complicity in acts of torture and forced disappearances" for selling material to the Egyptian regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The FIDH says the technology was used by the Libyan and Egyptian regimes to spy on opposition figures, who were later detained and tortured, in particular during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

The indictments are “a tremendous step forward” in the case, Patrick Baudouin and Clémence Bectarte, FIDH lawyers, said in a statement. “It means that what we see every day on the ground – namely the links between the activity of these surveillance companies and human rights violations – can be classified as crimes and lead to charges of complicity.”

... After the Journal’s revelations, Amesys acknowledged it had a deal to provide material to Libya. Its Deep Packet Inspection technology allowed Kadhafi's government to secretly intercept Internet messages, and the FIDH says the company knew when the sales were made in 2007 and 2011 that the material would be used in its cybersurveillance programme that would target the opposition.

The company said the deal was made when France and the West were reaching out to Libya, after Kadhafi visited French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris in 2007. The FIDH’s complaint was joined by at least six alleged victims of the spying, who were questioned by French judges from 2013 to 2015.

Part of the following timelines

France: Judicial investigation opens into Amesys and Nexa Technologies' surveillance equipment sales to Libya & Egypt linked to torture & disappearances

Amesys lawsuit (re Libya)