New information has emerged about a controversial spy van in Cyprus, with reports suggesting police may have known about its special capabilities in advance.
According to daily Politis, Cypriot police may have collaborated with an Israeli high-tech company on the island that offers surveillance services from the back of a multimillion euro converted spy vehicle.
Last week, reports emerged in the media about a van loaded with sophisticated surveillance equipment that was featured in a Forbes story and shown in-action during a video shot in Larnaca.
The reports included criticism from opposition left party Akel, then followed by news of police rushing to confiscate the van including equipment and various documents. Authorities also questioned Israeli national Tal Dilian, the founder of Cypriot company WiSpear which sells long range mission intelligence vehicles.
Investigators were also said to be investigating possible crimes and violations of privacy laws in the Republic of Cyprus, while lawyers representing the company said their client did nothing wrong.
Dilian was featured in a Forbes story claiming that his van and state-of-the-art spy gear could hack into smart phones, steal content, spy on people's locations, and even intercept WhatsApp messages.
Police Chief Kypros Michaelides said investigators were are looking into how the vehicle in question and surveillance equipment were imported into the country.
But Politis suggested on Monday that the equipment had been imported under the category of “meteorological equipment” and weather instruments, adding that police appeared to have been aware of the van’s secret operations.
Politis alleges that security was tight around the offices of the company out of fear of attacks, citing terrorism but not specific threats.
Cyprus police were also said to have been patrolling the area around the offices, while another company employee was said to have a license to carry a concealed weapon. It was not clear whether law enforcement officers were on official duty during the patrols.
It was not clear whether the company would be charged with breaking any laws while lawyers said their client’s company was following all laws and regulations of the Republic of Cyprus. [Kathimerini Cyprus]