Cyprus Spy Van Owner Says No Political Ties

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA- The company which owns an alleged spy van that was seized by Cypriot authorities denied any wrongdoing and said it has no links to political parties or to the government as the investigation into what it was doing continued.

“Throughout its operation, the company has not sold or rented any intelligence systems to Cypriot authorities,” WiSpear said. “The shareholders of this company never had any dealings with any political party whatsoever, either on a personal or professional basis,” it added.

The company was responding to reports that suggested numerous entities on the island, including ruling DISY party may have used the services of the company that owns the van, said the Cyprus Mail.

Cypriot police impounded the van that was equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment capable of hacking communications and questioned its Israeli owner who Police Chief Cyprus Kypros Michaelides told Astra radio had given “some explanations,” but he would be questioned further, along with Cypriot nationals.

WiSpear added that the van has not been active on Cypriot territory apart from field tests and demonstration purposes using only company-owned devices and under the guidelines and acknowledgement of local authorities.
Police launched an investigation after an Israeli national, Tal Dilian, an ex-intelligence officer and one of WiSpear’s directors, gave an interview to Forbes essentially advertising his services, which included covert surveillance and eavesdropping, among others.

Attorney-General Costas Clerides said there was no reason at the moment for him to intervene in the spy van case despite its sensitivity. “Only if there is evidence indicating that the police, which is responsible for the investigation, cannot be seen as impartial and objective because of being involved in the matter itself,” Clerides said.

The major opposition AKEL has demanded answers and a meeting was scheduled with President Nicos Anastasiades for Nov. 22 after the paper said reports indicated that DISY chief Averof Neophytou had met with an Israeli national in the past, suggesting it could be Dilian.

In a written statement, DISY said Neophytou had never had any contact with Dilian nor was he in any position to know what his relation may be with other members of the Jewish community in Cyprus.

Police began investigating after AKEL asked what the government was doing about activities undertaken in the van, which was showcased in a Forbes video story broadcast several months ago that only recently went viral in Cyprus, said Agence France-Presse (AFP.)

Forbes had named the owner of the van as Dilian, who allegedly heads a Cyprus-registered company that owns the vehicle, reporting that the $9 million state-of-the-art equipment in the van can monitor electronic devices within a 500-meter radius, hack any phone and listen in to conversations regardless of the level of encryption.

Investigators searched a company premises where the van was located in the coastal resort of Larnaca after securing warrants, Cypriot police said. “On preliminary examination, the vehicle was found to have electronic equipment and was confiscated, along with other evidence,” a police statement said.

“In a subsequent investigation at the company’s offices, further evidence was found, which will be subject to scientific examination,” it added.

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