Cyprus Seizes Spy Van, Questions Israeli Owner

Αssociated Press

FILE - A man watches a drone during a demonstration at the British police station inside the British military base in Dhekelia in southeast of the island of Cyprus, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA - Cypriot police said they had impounded an alleged “spy van” 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.

Police began investigating after the opposition communist party 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 ex-Israeli intelligence officer Tal 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 southern 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, added AFP.

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