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Bostwana police use Israeli phone hacking system also owned by Ghana on journalist

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The Bostwana police has used an Israeli company’s hacking device to extract information from a journalist’s phone looking for a source, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has reported. The same device has been obtained by the Ghana government.

According to the report the police went to the village of Tsaone Basimanebotlhe, a politics reporter, for the Mmegi newspaper to search her phone for information.

The journalist said she surrendered her phone and password to the agents after they presented a warrant and could not find her computer.

A senior officer then used technology sold by the Israel-based company Cellebrite to extract and analyze thousands of her messages, call logs, and emails, and her web browsing history, according to an affidavit from the police forensics laboratory. The affidavit, which CPJ reviewed, was submitted during a related court case.

Exactly a year ago, the CPJ reported that in May 2019, senior members of Ghana’s law enforcement posed for photos with the US ambassador to the country at a ceremony in the capital, Accra. Between them they held boxes and bags, gifts from the US government to Ghana which, according to one of the recipients, contained Israeli phone hacking technology.

That recipient was Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, then-director general of the Ghana police’s criminal investigation department. In May 2020, she spoke to CPJ about how the US and UK governments, as well as Interpol, provided Ghana’s security forces with digital investigations training and technology. She cited tools made by the Israel-based Cellebrite corporation – whose website says their technology can break locks and encryption – and two US-based companies, IBM and Digital Intelligence.

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