News / Africa

HRW: Ethiopia Eavesdrops on Phone Calls, E-mail

Ethiopia map
Ethiopia map
Marthe van der Wolf
A new report from Human Rights Watch says Ethiopia is using some of the world's most advanced surveillance software to monitor communications from Ethiopians at home and abroad.
 
Human Rights Watch says that the Ethiopian government is spying on its citizens and monitoring the activities of Ethiopians in the diaspora by using high tech software from China, Italy and Germany.
 
Felix Horne is the Horn of Africa researcher with the international human rights organization. He says the Ethiopian government has unlimited access to records of phone calls and emails of Ethiopians at home and abroad:

“Inside Ethiopia, its control of its Chinese developed telecom system results in having unfettered access to phone records and metadata of all phone calls in the country," he said. "Outside the country, they are using western-made technology to target the activities of very specific members of the diaspora. These technologies are being provided by a company in Italy, called HackingTeam and a company in Germany called Gamma.”
 
Ethiopia’s telecommunication is monopolized by the state-owned Ethio Telecom. A sim card can only be obtained in Ethiopia after registering personal details, making it easy for the government to identify domestic callers, according to Human Rights Watch.
 
A U.S. citizen of Ethiopian origin filed a lawsuit against the Ethiopian government last month, saying his computer had been hacked and he had been spied on for more than four months.
 
Horne says that certain ethnic groups feel particularly at risk when answering phone calls from abroad.
 
He says, “One of the things that we found in our research is that individuals that receive phone calls from abroad are often targeted and accused of talking to banned organizations or of plotting something against the government, despite there being little evidence to that effect.”
 
Getachew Redda, an adviser to Ethiopia's prime minister, denies the Human Rights Watch report.  He says the group has "made it a habit to accuse Ethiopia of almost everything that goes wrong in the region" and it has a "negative knee-jerk reaction about any developments in the country."

He adds that the government "would not waste resources in eavesdropping conversations of opposition figures" and that the accusations are "pure hogwash.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
March 26, 2014 3:06 AM
US citizens of Ethiopian origin should be filing a lawsuit against America's National Security Agency. NSA scandalously collected private phone call records, computer data, computer hacking and eavesdropped from citizens around the world including presidents and prime ministers just for fun!. Addis Ababa have got no one to apologize for protecting its citizen from murderous terrorists and menacing Ethiopians in diaspora.

by: Ras Mitat from: Ethiopia
March 25, 2014 2:25 PM
Journalism is dead!

Single Diaspora opposition loudmouth cries "Ethiopian govt virus," zero evidence as link...

Human Rights Watch happily relay Black African govt boogeyman story, fundraise more $$$...

BBC & VOA print fiction as fact by adding, "Human Rights Watch says..."

Everyone gets paid, no shame.
In Response

by: Sofit from: Manchester, UK
March 25, 2014 9:34 PM
@Ras, journalism died long ago. They're just digging up the corpse and reburying it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs