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Mystery Persists Over Alleged Spy Van on Cyprus

Αssociated Press

(Nikos Litsardis/ikariaki.gr via AP. File)

NICOSIA - Without clearing the air or confusion, the chief executive of WiSpear, the high-tech company probed for operating an alleged spy van on Cyprus, said his company was caught between political forces in a witch hunt.

In a press release, Tal Dilian, a former commander of a technology unit within Israeli intelligence, said he was disappointed with police for “delaying on purpose or not having the necessary expertise to understand the core of the investigation,” without explaining what that meant.

Dilian, in a written statement through his lawyer, said WiSpear was being targeted after he had given an interview about a surveillance vehicle, the SpearHead 360, that can hack multiple devices all at once, Kathimerini Cyprus reported.

An interview with Forbes magazine was published in the summer along with a video shot in Larnaca but Cyprus media didn't report it until recently when politicians raised questions over possible unlawful surveillance activities including spying on political parties or politicians, without offering any evidence.

The vehicle was confiscated by police following allegations that the company had been spying on local citizens but Dilian said his company was caught “in the midst of a vicious cycle of ‘accusations’ that are based solely on an interview given to an international media outlet.”

“This interview has been twisted and is being used to fuel allegations and rumours, from unnamed sources based on unclear motives, for our so-called unlawful activities,” Dilian said, claiming it had not engaged in unlawful activity.

Local media reported that thousands of email addresses were collected from the van but it was not clear whether the data was scooped up in violation of privacy laws.

Attorney General Costas Clerides assigned attorney Elias Stefanou to investigate whether any offences were committed under the privacy laws, including constitutional violations over the rights of Cypriot citizens to a private life.