Israeli company sells spyware to Bangladesh government despite export ban

Israeli company sells spyware to Bangladesh government despite export ban
2 min read
11 January, 2023
An Israeli company run by a former commander sold advanced spyware to Bangladesh despite a ban imposed by the Israeli government on surveillance exports to the Asian country.
Bangladesh has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel [Getty-file photo]

An Israeli company sold advanced spyware technology to the government of Bangladesh last year despite an Israeli ban on defence and surveillance exports to the Asian country, leaked official documents have revealed.  

Passitora, a Cyprus-based company run by former Israeli commander Tal Dilian, sold surveillance equipment to Bangladesh’s intelligence agency, the National Telecommunication Monitoring Center, reported Haaretz on Tuesday. 

Bangladesh, the third-largest Muslim country in the world, does not recognise Israel and the two countries have no formal diplomatic relations. 

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"The equipment, which is used to intercept mobile and internet traffic, was sold…[to] an arm of the Bangladeshi Interior Ministry responsible for tracking the internet and social media use," said Haaretz

Israeli companies are formally banned from doing business with Bangladesh. Dhaka is not on the list of countries approved by Israel's defence ministry for the export of classified technology

Passitora, however, reportedly has a record of questionable behaviour. The most noticeable was a scandal in Cyprus where the company, formally called WiSpear, allegedly boasted about extracting private data from people's mobile devices. Charges against the company were dropped but WiSpear was fined one million euros. 

Bangladeshi authorities have a track record of human rights abuses, including cracking down on critics, journalists, and even children who have spoken out against their policies, according to Human Rights Watch. 

This includes restrictions on freedom of movement and access to information among Rohingya refugees, many of whom live in squalor camps after fleeing brutal persecution in Myanmar.