KAMPALA – Chinese technology firm, Huawei has dismissed reports that it has been secretly assisting Uganda’s Security and Intelligence Agencies to track encrypted communication by government opponents contained in an exposé by American Newspaper the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The telecom equipment-maker is under scrutiny after the WSJ reported on Tuesday, that it’s employees provided Ugandan security officers with software that helped access Bobi Wine’s WhatsApp chat group, named Firebase Crew.
The incident is said to have taken place last year after Bobi Wine returned from the US where he had gone for treatment after the violence preceding the Arua Municipality by-elections.
Whereas the company admits offering training to Uganda police on how to manage the CCTV intelligence system, it has categorically rejected reports that it developed an intelligence monitoring project for Uganda to spy on the opposition.
The major purpose of CCTV project deployment, Huawei says is to identify criminal activities from wrong doers by CCTV camera surveillance and has already practically helped the Uganda Police to reduce the criminal rate in the city streets.
“Uganda Police CCTV Project is The ONLY security related project we have in Uganda whose scope is installing CCTV cameras, network, project command and data center for specifically public security surveillance and identification of criminal activities,” the company says in a detailed response sent to this website.
The WSJ reported that security agencies, scared about Bobi Wine after he received backing from the US Government, are said to have embarked on spying on the artiste-cum politician to understand his motives, with help from the staff working in their offices from Huawei, Uganda’s top digital supplier.
The Huawei technicians worked for two days and helped us puncture through,” one senior officer at the surveillance unit is quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.
The Huawei engineers, used the spyware to penetrate Mr. Wine’s WhatsApp chat group, named Firebase crew, which helped police to scupper his plans to organize street rallies. Bobi Wine was later arrested for holding a protest against social media tax.
However, Huawei denied the allegations, with the company spokesman, saying they have “never been engaged in ‘hacking’ activities”.
“Huawei rejects completely these unfounded and inaccurate allegations against our business operations. Our internal investigation shows clearly that Huawei and its employees have not been engaged in any of the activities alleged. We have neither the contracts, nor the capabilities, to do so,” the statement adds.
“We categorically state that during the year 2017 Huawei did not accompany any Uganda officers for any technical training in Beijing and no Uganda police force officer visited Huawei Shenzhen headquarters,” the company says also noting it has never stopped doing its work or fulfilling its contractual obligations after receiving inquiries from the Wall Street Journal journalists as stated in the article.”
Says that it prides itself on its compliance with the local laws and regulations in all markets where it operates and will defend its reputation robustly in the face of such baseless allegations launched to break its back.