Police in Cyprus confiscated a van on Saturday with high-tech surveillance equipment inside, news agencies have reported. Police officers took its Israeli owner for questioning after reports that the vehicle was used to spy on people.
According to the Cyprus Times, police took an interest after reports by Forbes magazine in August that a high-tech surveillance vehicle was in Larnaca with the capability of intercepting WhatsApp messages, Facebook chats, telephone calls and all the content of smartphones. This prompted the main Cypriot opposition part, Akel, to ask on Friday how and why such a vehicle was present in Cyprus and whether it had been inspected at customs.
Officials said that the vehicle is owned by a former senior Israeli intelligence officer called Tal Dilian. It is said that he operates in Cyprus through a registered company with Cypriot shareholders.
The vehicle and equipment are together said to be valued at around $9 million. It was apparently confiscated and taken to police headquarters.
Arab48.com reported that police in Israel have said that they have not received any information about the case from their Cypriot counterparts. The Israeli Foreign Ministry made no comment.
According to Haaretz, Dilian said that his services are intended to track terrorists and criminals, but his company merged in 2014 with NSO Group, whose malware has been used to target activists and journalists, including a close friend of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.