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Posted by OromianEconomist in African Internet Censorship, Ethiopia & World Press Index 2014.
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OEnemies of Internet


By Claire Lauterbach

Trovicor brochure25 March 2015 (Privacy International) — German surveillance technology company Trovicor played a central role in expanding the Ethiopian government’s communications surveillancecapacities, according to a joint investigation by Privacy International and netzpolitik.org.

The company, formerly part of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), provided equipment to Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in 2011 and offered to massively expand the government’s ability to intercept and store internet protocol (IP) traffic across the national telecommunications backbone. Trovicor’s proposal was to double the government’s internet surveillance capacity: two years’ worth of data intercepted from Ethiopian networks would be stored.

Trovicor’s predecessor in intelligence solutions, Siemens Pte worked closely with its British partner Gamma Group International via an offshore company in Lebanon to expand lawful interception in the east African country. Gamma Group’s highly intrusive FinFisher malware suite was used to target Ethiopian dissidents. Forensic traces of FinFisher malware have also been traced back to one of Gamma’s Lebanese operations.

Together, the companies and their Lebanese offshore subsidiaries helped one of Africa’s most repressive governments spy on one of its largest populations.

Backdoors to the backbone

Since 1991, Ethiopia has been governed by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPDRF), a coalition of ethnically-based political parties that has severely restricted freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Police has and security forces have been accused of torture. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), an Ethiopian intelligence agency has used intercepted communications data to identify and punish targets it perceives as opposed to the government. Journalists, activists and average citizens widely assume that their communications are extensively monitored. Phone records and transcripts have also been used to extract confessions under torture, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Information Network Security Agency (INSA), created in 2011, consolidated and extended the state’s surveillance and censorship of internet traffic. It is reported to have used ‘deep packet inspection’ which allows for the inspection and rerouting of internet traffic as it passes an inspection point and fulfils certain criteria defined by the inspecting agent. In 2012, it blocked access to the anonymous browsing service Tor, further restricting safe spaces for communication. INSA is alleged to be the agency responsible for using offensive malware from Italy-based Hacking Team in 2013 and 2014 to target journalists.

Ethio Telecom runs the country’s phone and internet services as a state-owned monopoly. In 2010, the Ethiopian government contracted France Telecom to manage the company, changed its former name and embarked on a serious expansion of the country’s infrastructure. While good news for rural Ethiopians who have much less access to quality communications services, the government also expanded its surveillance capacities to match.

Trovicor was central to this expansion plan. The Munich-headquartered company sells monitoring centres to government and law enforcement clients worldwide to capture, monitor, analyse and store all data acquired during investigation activities transmitted on a wide spectrum of networks. Trovicor technicians work to integrate interception gateways provided by Trovicor or partner companies into network infrastructure of service providers to funnel communications data to the monitoring centres.

Trovicor continues the work of Nokia Siemens Network (NSN), a Helsinki-based joint venture of German conglomerate Siemens AG and Finnish telecoms company Nokia. In 2009, NSN sold its intelligence wing ‘Siemens Intelligence Solutions’ to Perusa Partners Fund 1 LP, a private investment firm, amid controversy that it supplied of surveillance systems to Iran. Perusa renamed its new acquisition ‘Trovicor.’

In January 2010, two representatives of the company presented an Ethiopian customer with a detailed operational plan to massively expand the government’s capacity to monitor IP traffic, according to a document obtained by netzpolitik.org.

Ethiopia’s fiber optic backbone carries the country’s mobile and internet traffic. Signals travel across Ethiopia through many different traffic routers including local and regional routers and international gateways. IP traffic originating or travelling abroad, for example to and from Gmail’s US-based storage servers, would pass through internet gateways at three sites. In 2010, the existing fiber optic cable routes radiated from Addis Abeba along the country’s roadways to key towns including Gonder and the Sudan border to the northwest, Mek’ele to the North, Nekemte to the West, Awassa to the south, Dire Dawa to the East and out to the Red Sea via Djibouti. That year, the government planned to add 37 new fiber routes covering a distance of around 10,000 kilometers and reaching further into rural Ethiopia.

The government required massively expanded powers to intercept IP traffic across the new and existing cables. The government was to add new local-level ‘edge routers’ (ER) to 25 new locations. At each of these ER, Trovicor proposed, the company would install its own next generation network (NGN) taps. These taps would not interfere with the transmission of the signal. Instead, they would also transmit traffic from the ER to a Trovicor aggregation switch that would transmit the signal to the government’s monitoring centre – provided by Trovicor. The monitoring centre would require data from all 25 new aggregation switches to be provided to it on a single 10GbE link.

The government would double its storage and archiving capacity under Trovicor’s plan. Two years’ worth of data transmitted across Ethiopian networks could now be analysed. A total of 3 terabytes could be stored online and actively queried by monitoring centre analysts; a further 28 terabytes of material could be archived.

With Trovicor’s plan, analysts would be able to locate a mobile caller based on his or her proximity to cell phone towers. Trovicor offered to add this geolocation capacity – a “very cheap solution in comparison to the positioning systems” – to the monitoring centre and to integrate the centre with the network architecture provided by Chinese company ZTE.

Throughout this period Ethio Telecom regularly conducted business with Nokia and Siemens companies, some of it for lawful interception, according to records obtained by Privacy International. It is not clear whether Trovicor was ultimately chosen to expand network interception capacities according to the January 2010 plan. Trovicor was, however, doing business in Ethiopia in 2011. In June 2011 the company sent a shipment to the NISS security agency from Munich to Frankfurt and onwards to Addis Abeba via an Ethiopian Airways flight, according to company records. Its exact contents are unknown. Trovicor and Siemens did not respond to requests for comment.

The Lebanese Connection

The 7th floor of Broadway Building in Beirut’s fashionable Hamra district houses two surveillance technology companies – Elaman and Gamma Group, or rather, their offshore affiliates.

Headquartered in Munich, Elaman sells a range of surveillance equipment, from communications monitoring centres to specialist cameras and body-worn call interception devices. It is also a distributor and close partner of the British surveillance consortium Gamma Group. Elaman marketed FinFisher, a malware suite that allows its user to access all stored data and even to take control of the microphone and camera, before Gamma took over the promotion and leadership behind the product in the late 2000s. The Elaman-Gamma partnership had “successfully been involved over the past five years in projects and contracts worth more than 200 million euros”, according to one brochure.

Both companies provide powerful surveillance technology via Lebanon. Four joint stock companies – Elaman – German Security Solutions SAL, Gamma Group International SAL, Gamma Cyan SAL Offshore, and Cyan Engineering Services SAL – share the same registered address, above the Beirut offices of humanitarian charity Save the Children.

Siemens paid one of these companies, Gamma Group International SAL, for an “Ethiopia Lawful Interception” project sometime before July 2011. Gamma Group International SAL’s business is facilitated by Nabil Imad who appears as a beneficiary on a bank account attributed to Gamma, according to information obtained by Privacy International. Lebanese law requires joint stock companies, known by the French acronym SAL, to have between three and 12 shareholders, the majority of whom must be Lebanese. Nabil ‘Sami’ Imad is listed as the director of both Gamma Cyan SAL and Elaman SAL while ‘Sami Nabil Imad’ appears as director of Gamma Group International SALMohammad Farid Mattar, a lawyer representing the heir of assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, is also listed as a director of Gamma Group International SAL. The Lebanese company’s only listed non-Lebanese shareholder is its chairman, John Alexander Nelson Louthean. Louthean directs Gamma Group International Ltd. Gamma Group and Mattar both declined to offer comment.

In a written response to Privacy International’s and Netzpolitik’s questions regarding the operation, a lawyer for Gamma would neither confirm nor deny the details of this report. The same lawyer, speaking on Mr. Mattar’s behalf, would neither confirm nor deny Mr. Mattar’s involvement.

The “Ethiopia Lawful Interception” project could have been to integrate FinFisher into an Ethiopian Trovicor monitoring centre. Trovicor has offered to supply Gamma products to governments worldwide, including inTajikistan in 2009. A 2010 Gamma Group newsletter celebrated a new partnership with Trovicor based on successful collaboration in joint ventures. Wikileaks has identified that Gamma employees Stephan Oelkers and Johnny Debs visited Ethiopia in 2013 and Elaman CEO Holger Rumscheidt visited in 2012.

The combination of the two companies’ capabilities at the time – massive monitoring centres and the deployment of the FinFisher malware – presents a very concerning capability in the hands of a repressive government. FinFisher was used to target members of the Ethiopian political movement, Ginbot 7. Researchers at the Citizen Lab, a technology laboratory based in Canada, analyzed malware samples and determined that a FinFisher campaign originating in Ethiopia used pictures of Ginbot 7 members as bait to infect users – the corrupted files, when opened, would install the spyware onto the user’s device.

FinFisher was deployed against Ethiopians living abroad as well. Tadesse Kersmo is a London-based lecturer and member of Ginbot 7. Suspecting that his device was compromised, in 2013, he submitted his computer to Privacy International which, in collaboration with a research fellow of the Citizen Lab, analysed the device and found traces of FinFisher malware. The Citizen Lab’s forensic analysis of FinFisher samples obtained elsewhere have linked certificates for the samples to Cyan Engineering Services SAL. Kersmo used to use his computer to keep in touch with his friends and family and continued to advocate for democracy back in Ethiopia. With his chats and Skype calls logged, his contacts accessed, and his video and microphone remotely switched on, it was not only Kersmo that was threatened, but also every member of the movement.

Meanwhile in Germany, where Trovicor is headquartered and Gamma GmbH had an office before they transformed into FinFisher GmBH, German authorities maintain that they are unaware of either company supplying surveillance equipment to Ethiopia. After an investigation prompted by mounting evidence that German companies are leaders in the sale of surveillance technology worldwide, the German export agency said in a letter to the Bundestag that it found no records of any sale of surveillance technology to Ethiopia. However, the absence of records does not mean that no sales were made; unlike the sale of arms and other military equipment that necessitate the consideration of the human rights implications of a sale by export authorities, the sale of surveillance technology was not covered by any export regulation at the time of its export, allowing companies and their customers to trade free from any public scrutiny.

Back in Ethiopia, journalists, activists and many ordinary citizens self-censor in the face of constant government surveillance of their private communications. “We use so many code words and avoid talking directly about so many topics that often I’m not sure I know what we are really talking about” said one person who spoke with Human Rights Watch.

Thousands of kilometres away, European companies and their slightly closer Lebanese entities are responsible for these silences.

The European Union is currently considering if and how to regulate exports of surveillance technologies that lead to abuses of human rights. For more information, visit Privacy International or the Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports.

Source: Privacy International


Historical and Contemporary Relations between Europe and the Oromo March 26, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Development Studies, Oromo Studies.
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Oromo Studies Association’s (OSA’s) Midyear 2015 Conference in Munich, Germany (March 28-29)

The theme of the Conference: “Historical and Contemporary Relations between Europe and the Oromo.


Oromo Studies Association Midyear Conference in Munich, Germany, 2015

For more details of the program click at:

OSA Midyear Conference, March 2015

Oromedia : Seenaa Jaal Abdiisaa Hayilee (1986-2015). #Oromo. #Oromia March 26, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo.
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O   11046806_1590100687942813_2322174843306110075_n Jaal Bunguli (Abdiisaa) Hayilee abbaa isaa obboo Hayilee Dagabaasaa Camadaa fi haadha isaa Aaddee Muluu Daammanaairraa Caamsaa 14/1986 A.L .O. ti Godina Shawaa Lixaa Aanaa Jibaat ganda Gaamoo Hadaadiitti dhalate. Yeroo umuriin isaa barnootaaf gahutti, barnoota isaa sadarkaa 1ffaa achuma aanaa Jibaat mana barumsaa iichaa hadaadiitti xumure. Barnoota isaa sadarkaa 2ffaa mana barumsaa shanan sadarkaa lammaffaatti barachuun qormaata biyyoolessaa(kutaa 10ffaa) qabxii giddugaleessaa galmeessissuun gara kolleejjii teknikaa fi oggummaa Ambootti ogummaa seeraa barachuu eegale. Ogummaa seeraa baratee osoo jiruu carraa hojii waan hin arganneef ogummaa dhuunfaa isaa hojii ijaarsaa garaa garaatiin biyyoota adda addaa deemee  hojjachuu eegale.  Jaal Abdiisaan nama qajeelaa dhaabbii fi ilaalchi isaa namatti tolu ture. Hawaasa naannoo isaa biratti taphataa kubbaa milaa cimaafi farda gulufuun beekama. Jaal Bunguli (Abdiisaa) bara 2014 yeroo ummanni Oromoo daangaa lafa Oromiyaa falmatu mirga saba isaatiif nama of kennee falmaa turee dha. Sababa kanaanis hiriira seeraan alaa gaggeesite; jeequmsaaf ummata kakaafte jedhamee yeroo dheeraaf hordofamaa ture. Innis hordoffiin itti hammaannaan bakka jireenyaa jijjirachuun  jiraataa ture. Yeroo keessa  haalli tasgabbaa’eera jedhee Ayyaana Irreechaa kan magaalaa Bishooftuutti kabajamuu kabajee gara maatiisaatti galuuf osoo deemaa jiru, osoo maatii isaa bira hingahiin magaalaa Shanan ganda 01 tti gafaa guyyaa  05/10/2014  to’annaa poolisii jala oole. Poolisiin toánnaa jala isa oolches  guyyaa lamaaf achuma magaalaa Shanan waajjira poolisii tursuun guyyaaa torba booda gara waajjira qajeelcha poolisii G/Sh/Lixaa Ambootti dabarse. Achittis qorannaa guddaa erga irratti raawwatanii booda gara mana sirreessaa Ambootti dabarsuun hiriyyoota isaa otuu mirga saba isaaniif falmanii diina harka buánitti makame. Jaal Abdiisaan yeroo qorannoo poolisii jala turetti hedduu reebamaa ture. Qaamni isaa hedduu miidhamee ture. Yeroo heddduu kan mana hidhaa keessatti dubbataa tures,  waaée miidhamuu isa aotuu hin taane akkamiin akka sabni Oromoo bilisummaa isaa deebifatee goonfatu akn ibsu ture. Yeroo mara kan inni dubbatu, “diinni kan hidhu qaama keenya malee yaada keenya miti; yeroo amra waa’ee bilisummaa keenyaa yaaduu dhiisuu hin qabnu,” jedhaa ture. Waa’ee reebichaa fi hiraarsaa  yeroo dubbatus, “namni bilisummaa barbaadu reebicha himatuu hin qabu; gatiin bilisummaa olaanaa dha,” jechaa akka ture hiriyyoonni isaa ragaa bahu. Reebichi Jaal Abdiisaa irra gahe garuu oolee bulee isa miidhuu hin dhiifne. Yeroo hedduu gara mana yaalaa akak geessan iyyatus, manni yaalaa deebii kennuufii dide. Erga inni miidhamee du’a jala gahee booda garuu,  gaafa guyyaa 14/03/2015 gara hospitaala Ambootti geeffame. Yeroo geeffame sanatti hedduu hubamee waan tureef akka irraa hin hafne ni beekama ture. Namoota isa gaafachaa turanittis akka dhibee gidiraa irraa itti dhufe irraa hin fayyine itti himaa ture. Keessayyuu, kaayyoo haqaaf falmuun itti fufuu akka qabu dubbataa ture. “Mootummaa gabroofataan nama ofitti amanu hin jaalatu;  motummaanni Habashaas sabni keenya akka doofaa taée hafu barbaadu. Kan dide immoo kaan biyyaa ari’uun akka baqataa taú godhan; kaan immoo qabanii mana hidhaatti gidirsuun achuman ajjeessan. Kun har’a miti, kan eegale. Kaleessas nurra ture; har’a illee kunoo aadaa ta’ee nu nyaachaa jira.  Sabni keenya qabsoo isaa itti fufuu malee fala biraa hin qabu,” jechaa ture. Abdiisaan dhibee gidiraa irraa itti dhufe irraa otuu hin dandamatiin akkuma kaateenaan hidhametti  gaafa guyyaa 17/03/2015 osoo beellama mana murtiitti deddeebi’u hin xumuratiin, murtee dabaa gaaffii  bilisummaa isaatiif isatti kannameef ture otuu hin  argatiin lubbuun isaa ganama keessaa sa’a 6:00 irratti bakka haati manaan isaa hin jirretti maatii isaa harkatti umurii 29 tti biyya lafaa irraa boqote. Gootichi Oromoo, Jaal Abdiisaan (Bunguliin) yeroo lubbuun keessaa bahuuf jirtutti akkas jedhee barattota Oromoofi ummata Oromoo maraaf dhaamsaa dabarse.

“Yaa ummata Oromoo! Yaa hiriyoottan koo fi yaa firoottan qabsoo bilisumma Oromoo!  Duuti koo, du’a goota Oromoo kan obboo H/Gammadaa, kaadhimamaa Engineer Gaaddisaa Hirphasaa fi kan gootota Oromoo biroo waliin wal fakkaata. Ani kanin hidhameef, kanin ajjeeffameefis waanan,  ‘lafti Oromiyaa hintaatu kan alagaa!’ jedheef. Akkasumas,  waanin Oromumma kootti booneef duá kanaaf na kaadhiman malee yakka hojjadhee miti.”

Abbaan isaa obboo Hayilee Dagabaasaa haala du’a ilma isaanii haala nama gaddisisuun ergaa dabarfatan;

“Yaa ilmaan Oromoo ilmikoo hatee ykn nama reebee, ajjeessee miti kan biyya isaa irratti hidhame; lafti ilmaan Oromoo maaf ciccirama jedheeti kan falme, maal godhu garuu ilma koo miti kan karaa baase;  duuti ilmaan Oromoo walfakkaataa dha. Warri kaan reeffa ilmaan isaanii hin argiin jiran. An garuu reenfaa ilma kootii, kaatenaan hidhamee jiru argadheen jira.” jedhan.

Barruu yaadannoo isaa irraa dhaamsi argames ejjannoo dhugaa inni qabu kan ibsuu dha.

“Duuti ilmaan Oromoo amma du’a sareellee dhageettii dhabaa jira. Ani qabeenyaa keenyaafin hidhame; reebame; yoon asitti dué illee kaayyoo saba kootiifan wareegame. Namuu irra deddeebi’ee hidhii xuuxuun waa akka hin finne beekuu qabna. Kan nu baasu kaayyoo goototi keenya irratti wareegaman jabeessinee galmaan ga’uu qofaa dha; imaanaa kun kan tokkoon tokkoon  Oromooti.”

Har’a Jaal Abdiisaan nu waliin hin jiru. Kaayyoon inni wareegameef immoo amma illee galii isaa hin geenye. Akak galii isaa gahuuf kan hojjatuu qabu dhaloota haaraa imaanaan eeggatuu dha. Yaadannoon Jaal Abdiisaas kanuma mirkaneessa.

“Karaan irra jirru karaa sirrii ti; karaan kun kan jaallen Oromoo itti wareegamaa jiran, karaa qajeelaa fi haqaa ti. Kana waan ta’eef, waan nu itti roorrifamnee itti ajjeeffamnu kana murannoon galmaan gahuun dhaloota keenay irraa eegama. Namuu waadaa kana tiksuu qaba; dhalooti haaraan hojii manee kana hojjatan malee Bilisummaan tola hin dhufu.  Ani gama kootiin, saba guddaa gabrummaa jala jiru kanaaf osoon lubbuu lama qabaadhee kenneefii waanan itti gaabbuiu miti; waanti guddaan dagatamuu hin qabne garuu Oromoo inni hafe gumaa keenya  baasuuf irbuu isaa haaromsuu qaba!” 

Jaal Abdiisaan akka hawwetti fayyee dirree falmaa seenuu hin dandeenye. Garuu, irbuu isaa cabsee ergamtuu diinaa hin taane. Bakka gahe maratti otuu saba isaaf dubbatuu, otuu haqaaa fi dhugaaf falmuu dhibee roorrootiin addunyaa kana irraa darbe; seenaan isaa seenaa qabsaa’ota Oromoo keessatti hallu kabajaan barreeffamee dhalootaa dhalootatti dubbifamuun immoo mirkana. Jaal Abdiisaan, abbaa ilma tokkoo yoo ta’u,  bakka haati manaa isaa hinjirretti qobaa isaa ilma isaa guddisuuf nama dhama’aa tureedha.