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Cyprus

Police collaborated with company selling surveillance services, Kyprianou says (update 2)

The van parked at Police Headquarters

Police appear to have had some sort of collaboration with a company under investigation in connection with illegal surveillance, opposition Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said on Friday following a meeting on the matter with President Nicos Anastasiades.

During the morning meeting at the presidential palace, Kyprianou was briefed by the chief of police on the progress of the investigation, launched after it emerged that an Israeli-owned company based in Larnaca possessed state of the art equipment to carry out phone tapping, among others.

“We are wondering whether the attorney-general must appoint an independent committee, helped by experts, considering the fact that it appears there had been some sort of cooperation between the police and the company in question,” Kyprianou said afterwards.

Asked whether the chief of police had confirmed the cooperation, Kyprianou said he informed them on the type of collaboration. No other details were given.

The Akel leader stressed that he was not disputing the objectivity of the chief and the people investigating the case but “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.”

He told reporters that he also passed on to police information the party had in relation to the matter.

“It is of utmost importance to convey the message to society that the effort is for the issue to be cleared and no shadows should be allowed to linger,” Kyprianou said.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou added however: “I do not think there is an issue of the police collaborating with these companies; if there is such a claim, it is something the attorney-general can judge.”

President Nicos Anastasiades said investigations into the matter would continue, but he refused to comment further.

“Something that I will not accept and will never accept is the violation of personal privacy of any citizen or politician,” he said.

It later emerged that Attorney-general Costas Clerides had contacted the chief of police who briefed him on the probe’s findings so far “which one way or another linked the police with the companies or people under investigation.”

In a statement, the Legal Service said there was no reason to warrant taking the investigation away from the police.

Police launched an investigation after Israeli national Tal Dilian, an ex-intelligence officer, gave an interview to Forbes essentially advertising his services, which included covert surveillance and eavesdropping, among others.

The van has since been seized, while police are investigating potential violations of privacy.

As the story developed, a second company of Israeli interests, NCIS, was implicated in the affair.

This one, according to reports, had installed a security system at the ruling Disy building in Nicosia, as well as other venues.

Earlier reports said Disy chief Averof Neophytou had met with an Israeli national in the past, suggesting it could be Dilian.

On Friday, the party said Akel was trying to implicate Neophytou by spreading fake news.

“Sirs at Akel, enough is enough. The dirt and lies you spread have no boundaries,” Demetris Demetriou, Disy spokesman said.

He added Neophytou made it clear in an earlier statement, he does not know Dilian and never had contact with him.

It has also emerged that an Israeli national associated with the outfit was issued a permit to carry a handgun. The individual had reportedly applied twice for the permit, and was twice denied by the relevant police committee.

Ionas Nicolaou, who was justice minister at the time, subsequently interceded to have the gun permit issued by way of exception.

Daily Politis reported that Shahak Avni, the leader of the Jewish community in Cyprus, is the businessman to whom the cabinet had granted a firearm permit. He had also been granted a police guard.

In a statement on Friday, the former justice minister said the firearm licence was given legally to Avni, as the police committee’s ruling is only advisory.

The committee denied Avni’s application due to the fact he was not a Cypriot citizen. But, Nicolaou said the law states an individual does not need to be a Cypriot citizen to receive a firearm licence.

He added: “The firearm licence was given due to the increased risk of terrorist threats to persons of Jewish origin, as explicitly mentioned in a police report, which was assessed by the relevant authorities for increased security measures.”

 


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