U.S. citizen sues Ethiopia for allegedly using computer spyware against him

A Washington area man with ties to Ethiopia’s political opposition sued that country’s government in federal court Tuesday, alleging that agents had used powerful spyware to hack into his computer and snoop on his private communications for more than four months.

The suit says that forensics experts found more than 2,000 files related to a spyware program called FinSpy, including evidence that it had accessed the Skype calls, e-mails and Web browsing history in violation of U.S. wiretapping laws.
The case is the latest sign that the government of Ethi­o­pia, an American ally with a history of repressing political opponents, journalists and human rights activists, has used sophisticated Internet technology to monitor its perceived enemies, even when they are in other countries.

“The Ethio­pian government appears to be doing everything it can to spy on members of the diaspora, especially those in contact with opposition groups,” said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group based in San Francisco that prepared the suit.

Ethio­pian officials did not respond immediately to requests for comment Tuesday morning. Last week, for a separate story about the government’s alleged use of spyware against Ethio­pian journalists working in the United States, a government official said, “The Ethiopian government did not use and has no reason at all to use any spyware.”

Tuesday’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, takes the unusual step of not naming the plaintiff, who alleges in an affidavit that revealing his identity would endanger him, his children and members of his family still in Ethi­o­pia.

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The man first came to the United States 22 years ago, won political asylum and now is a U.S. citizen living in Silver Spring, Md. He provides “technical and administrative support” to an Ethio­pian opposition group, Ginbot 7, but is not a formal member of that group, the affidavit says. The suit uses a pseudonym, Kidane, which is a common name in Ethi­o­pia. A judge must permit the use of a pseudonym in the suit… Read More on WashingtonPost

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