Wednesday

29th Jan 2020

Investigation

Gaddafi-tainted firm scoops EU contract

  • Amesys, a subsidary of Bull SAS International, is accused of helping Gaddafi capture dissidents (Photo: EU's attempts)

The EU’s newest IT agency has awarded a contract to a firm linked with the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s efforts to track, capture and torture people during the Libyan revolution.

Tallinn-based EU-Lisa, which is to manage all the databases connected to EU asylum, migration and border management policies, recently awarded a € 3.7 million contract to S.A. Bull N.V. and two other companies.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The so-called Eurodac Transfer deal, which concerns the collection of asylum seekers' fingerprints, was made public on 5 September.

Belgian-based S.A. Bull N.V. is a subsidiary of French firm Bull SAS International, which, via its other subsidiary, Amesys in France, sold surveillance equipment to Gaddafi.

Two French NGOs, the Federation International of Human Rights (FIDH) and the Human Rights League (LIDH), took Amesys to court in 2011.

They accused it of complicity in torture by helping the Libyan dictator to locate and capture dissidents who later suffered physical abuse.

Amesys signed a contract with the Libyan government at the end of 2006 to intercept communications, process data, and help with analysis and monitoring. The company became a part of Bull SAS International in 2010.

A Wikileaks document describes the company’s flagship product, Eagle, as akin to a digital dragnet that sweeps up the country’s entire Internet traffic.

Meanwhile, Amesys’ own literature says its core technology is designed to help law enforcement and intelligence agencies “to reduce crime levels, to protect from terrorism threats and to identify new incoming security danger.”

It says Eagle can retrieve the complete protocol information from the Call Data Record (CDR) and all the attached documents for mail, webmail (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo), VoIP, chats, and others.

Bull SAS sold its Eagle technology in January.

It is now being developed and marketed by a group of former Amesys employees led by Stephane Salies, an Eagle chief designer and an ex-director at Bull SAS.

Amesys says it worked with the Libyan authorities to track child pornography and terrorists but not opponents of the regime. It also denies that it helped the regime record telephone calls and Skype conversations.

But a Paris court over the summer decided to launch an official investigation into the allegations after it heard the testimonies of five victims.

“The Court of Appeal has confirmed that there was sufficient evidence to start investigating in this matter, despite the road blocks erected by the Paris Prosecutor’s office, obviously reluctant to allow an impartial and independent inquiry into this matter,” said Patrick Baudouin, a legal counsel at FIDH, in a statement in July.

The victims, who had opposed the regime, say their emails, Skype conversations, and Facebook pages had all been hacked.

They say Libyan intelligence agents had shown them print-outs and made them listen to recorded conversations.

Journalists from the Paris-based news agency Mediapart also revealed in August that Abdallah Senoussi, who is Gaddafi’s brother-in-law and former chief of intelligence, had helped seal the Amesys deal.

For its part, EU-Lisa told this website that the agency became financially independent four months ago. The agency is responsible for all its own security-related procurements.

It noted that the Eurodac Transfer contract is its first procurement tender.

It noted that Amesys is not a part of the contract consortium and that tenders can be excluded only if they perform an illegal activity that “is detrimental to the Union’s financial interest.”

EU-Lisa started operations on December 1, 2012. While the seat of the agency is in Tallinn, the operational management of the large-scale systems is carried out in Strasbourg, France with a backup site in Sankt Johann im Pongau, Austria.

Private firms put price tag on migrant suicides

Private security companies operating UK-based immigrant removal centres use formulas to calculate the profit loss incurred when detainees commit suicide under their watch.

News in Brief

  1. EU commission presents 43 new proposals
  2. EU asylum agency to expand operations in Greece
  3. EU set to repatriate citizens from coronavirus-hit Wahun
  4. German Left MEP resigns over former far-right membership
  5. Sassoli defends 'renewed approach' for enlargement
  6. UK approves limited role for Huawei in 5G network
  7. Cases of coronavirus in France and Germany
  8. Report: EU court seeks authority on post-Brexit deal

Opinion

In Orban's Hungary, the law is not for everyone

Viktor Orban has seen to it that public authorities will not pay legal compensation owed to members of two particularly vulnerable groups: Roma victims of segregated education, and prisoners detained in conditions that violate their human dignity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EPP to keep Orban's Fidesz suspension
  2. EU not prepared for 2015 repeat, warns migration chief
  3. Selmayr did not want top job, says predecessor
  4. EU states wary of MEPs leading future conference
  5. Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states
  6. In Orban's Hungary, the law is not for everyone
  7. 'Brexit is not going to go away,' warns EU's Barnier
  8. Belgian spy services launch internal clear-up

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us