Nicosia (QNN)- Cypriot police have confiscated a van reportedly loaded with sophisticated surveillance equipment and have questioned its Israeli owner, who is a former intelligence officer, following media reports that the vehicle was being hired out to spy on people.
Police began investigating after the opposition communist party AKEL asked what the government was doing about activities undertaken in the van, which was showcased in a Forbes video story broadcast, where the suspect shows off the $9 million van’s spying capabilities. The video was made several months ago but it only recently went viral in Cyprus.
Forbes’ August report and reports on Cypriot media identified the Israeli as intelligence expert Tal Dilian, co-founder of surveillance firm Circles Technologies. According to a 2018 Haaretz report, its system can be installed on drones and surveillance vehicles.
Police chief Kypros Michaelides told private radio station Astra that authorities are also questioning the Larnaca-based company’s other Cypriot shareholders and are looking into how this van and other surveillance equipment was imported into the country.
According to Forbes, Dilian’s surveillance kit can extract any information from smartphones in its vicinity or empty them of content.
He told the paper his services are intended to track terrorists and criminals, but Dilian’s Circles merged in 2014 with NSO Group, whose malware has been used to target activists and journalists, including a close friend of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.