May 15 2018

Turkish gov’t infiltrated opposition smartphones with German spy software - DW

A German-made spy program used by the Turkish government allowed for the smartphones of members of the Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to be infiltrated, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported, citing a report seen by German media.

The software was primarily used during a three-week protest in 2017, against Turkish President Recep Erdoğan organized by CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, DW reported.

Kılıçdaroğlu, in June of last year announced a weeks-long march from Ankara to Istanbul after former journalist and current CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoglu was sentenced to 25 years in prison for leaking classified information to a leading newspaper.

German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and public broadcasters NDR and WDR reported the news based on a study by the digital rights group Access Now.

The information given in the report  points to Turkish officials using the  program "Finspy" by Finfisher, a German company headquartered in Munich, to spy on members of Turkey’s leading opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Germany has strict rules for exporting spy software and has vowed to block exports to countries it sees as authoritarian.

The mechanism was such that Fake Twitter accounts posted links to websites that promised to inform protesters about the demonstration if they downloaded a smartphone app which included Finspy software.

This allowed the government to gain real-time access to the smartphone owners contacts, photos and videos, according to the report.

German exports to Turkey have been growing despite increased political tension between the two countries.  

Exports to Turkey covered by a German government credit guarantee, called “Hermes”, increased by a third between 2016 and 2017, reaching nearly 1.5 billion euros, according to a report in Deutsche Welle.