You can read 19 more articles this month
BRITISH ministers approved the sale of more than £2.5 million worth of spy equipment to Saudi Arabia in the past year alone, an investigation has revealed.
Despite concerns over the country’s human rights abuses, Politics Home found that the Department of International Trade granted five export licenses for telecommunications interception equipment between September 2017 and September 2018.
Approval of the applications to export controlled goods to Saudi Arabia took an average of 15 days, figures released by the department through Freedom of Information requests show.
The technology included controversial IMSI-catchers, which can listen in on phone calls, access private information stored on mobile phones and conduct surveillance of individuals attending events such as demonstrations.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) told the Star: “The Saudi regime has a long and brutal record of cracking down on activists and punishing dissent.
“By selling it the means to spy on pro-democracy campaigners the UK government has made itself complicit in this oppression.”
Between 2015 and 2017, the government provided more than £70 million worth of spyware equipment to authorities with “appalling human rights records,” CAAT figures show.
Brighton Kemptown Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle – who is a member of the Commons committee on arms export controls – said the sales were evidence the government was “running roughshod” over British arms export laws.
He stated that it is illegal to licence goods if there is “a clear risk they could be used for repression.”
“Britain’s export of mobile phone interception kit to repressive regimes across the world is a very worrying phenomenon because they are effective tools to hunt dissidents and disrupt public protest,” he added.
“It is incredible the government is licensing this stuff to Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a man who recently ordered the murder and dismemberment of a dissident.”
A Department for International Trade spokesperson said the government takes its export responsibilities “very seriously” and all applications are “considered on a case-by-case basis.”
They added: “Risks around human rights abuses are a key part of our licensing assessment and the government will not license the export of items where to do so would be inconsistent with any provision of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.