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Ethiopia Claims That Foreign Governments Have Legal Right to Wiretap Americans

Monday, July 13, 2015 :: Staff infoZine

American Fights Ethiopian Government’s Illegal Use of Spyware in Court Tuesday. Washington, DC – infoZine – On Tuesday, July 14, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal court to allow an American to proceed with his lawsuit against the Ethiopian government for infecting his computer with secret spyware, wiretapping his private calls, and monitoring his family’s every use of the computer for weeks on end.

EFF is representing the plaintiff in this case, who has been given permission by the court to allow him to use his pseudonym Mr. Kidane in order to protect the safety and well-being of his family both in the United States and Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government’s U.S. lawyers have asked to have the case dismissed, claiming that foreign governments have a right wiretap Americans inside their own homes without court oversight, a right that not even the U.S. government claims for itself. EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo will argue Tuesday that Ethiopia must answer in court for the illegal spying on Mr. Kidane. The case is also supported by the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi, LLP.

The spyware that EFF’s experts found on Mr. Kidane’s computer appears to be part of a systemic campaign by the Ethiopian government to spy on perceived political opponents. The malware in this case was a program called FinSpy, surveillance software marketed exclusively to governments by the Gamma Group of Companies. Just recently, leaked documents have shown that a competing spyware company called Hacking Team has also provided covert surveillance software to Ethiopia, which was used to spy on journalists critical to the current government.

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