Saturday, 28 July 2012

France probes tech firm accused of aiding Syria regime

A picture taken on July 25, 2012 shows a page of the website of the French company Qosmos.

Paris prosecutors on Thursday opened a preliminary probe into the alleged involvement of French firm Qosmos in supplying Syria's regime with surveillance equipment, judicial sources said.

The investigation follows a suit filed by human rights groups against the firm which said that Qosmos may have been supplying equipment that helped President Bashar Al-Assad's regime's bid to crush opposition forces.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Human Rights League (LDH) jointly filed the complaint with the Paris prosecutor on Wednesday.

"Western companies must know that they cannot sell this type of equipment to authoritarian regimes without being held accountable," said Michel Tubiana of the LDH.

Qosmos's website says its core expertise is in "technology that creates an information layer in communications networks, enabling detailed, real-time visibility into all IP (Internet Protocol) traffic as it crosses networks".

Benoit Chabert, a lawyer for the firm, told AFP on Wednesday that Qosmos had not yet seen the complaint filed against it but that it had been involved in no wrong-doing.

French authorities opened a probe in May into the activities of Amesys, another French firm, after the FIDH and LDH accused it of providing surveillance equipment to Libya's now dead strongman Moamer Kadhafi.

The equipment, the groups said, was aimed at targeting "opponents, arresting them and putting them in prison, where they were tortured".

Amesys said after the probe was announced that it "very strongly denies the accusation of 'complicity in torture' and hopes to quickly be able to inform the investigating magistrate of the reality of the case".

The company had admitted in September that it supplied Kadhafi's regime with "analysis equipment" but noted the deal was made only after Libya had improved ties with the West and that it did not operate any surveillance.

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