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1 Sep 2011

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Amesys lawsuit (re Libya)

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Date lawsuit was filed
1 Sep 2011
Location of Filing: France
Location of Incident: Libya
Type of Litigation: Transnational


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In 2011, two NGOs filed a criminal complaint before a French court, accusing Amesys (now Nexa Technologies) of complicity in human rights abuses by the Gaddafi Government in Libya for providing it surveillance equipment. The complaint alleges the surveillance equipment was used to intercept private internet communications to identify, seek out, and torture opponents of Gaddafi. Amesys confirms it entered into an agreement with Libyan authorities, but claims the equipment provided does not enable the monitoring of telephone lines. 

Amesys (a subsidiary of Bull, and now Nexa Technologies) is accused in an ongoing criminal case of complicity with human rights abuses by the Gaddafi government in Libya by providing it surveillance equipment.  Two organizations – International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and la Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) – filed a criminal complaint in the case on 19 October 2011 before a Paris court.   The complaint asserts that in 2007 Amesys contracted with the Libyan Government to provide communication surveillance equipment which the government used to intercept private internet communications.  The complaint further alleges that Amesys assisted in developing and monitoring a surveillance network that the authorities used to identify opponents of Gaddafi, whom the government then detained and tortured.  Amesys confirms that it entered into an agreement with Libyan authorities in 2007 but claims that the equipment provided does not enable the monitoring of telephone lines.  It contends that it entered into the agreement in a diplomatic context of rapprochement with Libya, which had stated that it wanted to fight terrorism.  The company states that its activities comply with international, European and French law.

On 21 May 2012, the Paris prosecutor opened an investigation against the company.  In January 2013 a French appeals court ruled that a judicial inquiry into the allegations of Amesys' complicity in acts of torture may proceed.  On 30 May 2017, Amesys was declared an "assisted witness".

In June 2021, Amesys and its former CEO, Philippe Vannier, who ran the company until 2010, were charged with "complicity in acts of torture” for selling equipment to Kadhafi's regime.

-French technology firm charged over Libya cyber-spying, AFP, 1 Jul 2021

-French executives of Amesys and Nexa Technologies face torture charges for selling spy gear to Libya, Egypt, Sarah Elzas, RFI, 22 Jun 2021

- [FR] "Libye de Kadhafi: un juge français va enquêter sur le rôle d'Amesys", AFP, 15 janvier 2013
- "Libyans file suit against French tech firm over torture", AFP, 15 Jan 2013
- [FR] "Torture en Libye : enquête sur la société française Amesys" ("Torture in Libya: investigation against French company Amesys"), Jim Jarrassé, Le Figaro, 21 mai 2012
- [FR] “Une société française poursuivie avoir vendu du materiel de surveillance à Kadhafi” (“A French company prosecuted for selling surveillance equipment to Gaddafi”), Le Monde, 19 octobre 2011
- “Doing Business With Gaddafi: Making Millions and Risking Lives”, Jean Marc Manach, owni.eu, 13 Oct 2011
- “French Firm Sold Gadhafi Stealth 4x4: Report”, AFP, 18 Sep 2011
- “French spy-tech firm confirms 2007 deal with Kadhafi”, AFP, 2 Sep 2011
- [FR] “Contrat avec la Libye : Amesys se défend” (“Contract with Libya: Amesys defends itself”), Le Monde Informatique, 2 septembre 2011
- [FR] “Libye – Une filiale de Bull fournissait à Kadhafi des équipements de surveillance du Web” (“Libya – A subsidiary of Bull supplied online surveillance equipment to Gaddafi”), blog "Big Browser", Le Monde, 30 août 2011
- “Firms Aided Libyan Spies: First Look Inside Security Unit Shows How Citizens Were Tracked”, Paul Sonne & Margaret Coker, Wall Street Journal, 30 Aug 2011

- Response re article alleging Amesys sold surveillance equipment to Libyan authorities, 22 Dec 2011
- Amesys press release, 1 Sep 2011


-Surveillance & torture in Egypt & Libya: Amesys and Nexa Technologies executives indicted, FIDH, 22 Jun 2021

- [FR] Affaire Amesys : la Chambre de l'instruction donne son feu vert á la poursuite de l'instruction, 15 janvier 2013
- FIDH and LDH file a complaint concerning the responsibility of the company AMESYS in relation to acts of torture,19 Oct 2011
- [FR] La FIDH et la LDH déposent une plainte mettant en cause la société Amesys pour complicité d'actes de torture, 19 octobre 2011