A surveillance van worth $9 million circulating the streets of Cyprus has raised many questions on the island. The owner of the “spy vehicle” is Israeli Tal Dilian, an intelligence veteran currently residing in Larnaca. The presence of his new enterprise Intellexa, a one-stop-shop selling cyber arsenal and hacking tools, attracted the attention of Forbes who dedicated an article on him last August.
Tal Dilian, described by Forbes as a multi-millionaire former Israeli secret agent, who works privately and provides espionage services to government states and various companies, had told the journalists that the tools he uses are able to monitor cell phones and other electronic devices within 500 meters. His surveillance system specializes in the interception of audio conversations, written texts and other data such as WhatsApp messages, Facebook chats, SMS texts, calls, contacts etc.
He claims such tools are designed to snoop on terrorists, drug cartels and the world’s most egregious criminals. But that’s not always the case. Politicians, human rights activists and journalists have been targeted too. Most infamously, associates of Khashoggi and other Saudi Arabian activists were allegedly targeted by stealth iPhone spyware called Pegasus in the lead-up to his torture and slaughter in Istanbul.
AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou has issued a written statement on Friday saying that equipment “has enormous uncontrollable capabilities as it penetrates smartphones and electronic devices within hundreds of meters recognizing human voice and operating devices on behalf of their owners”, therefore he urged the government to act responsibly and proceed to the immediate seizure of the equipment.
In particular, Mr Kyprianou addresses the Government following questions:
- What are the reasons behind the presence of the surveillance van in Cyprus?
- Who is in charge of the customs clearance? How did it happen?
- Under what legislation the enterprise operates and provides services in Cyprus?
- Who issued the license?
- Against whom it has been functioning?