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Cyprus appoints expert to assist in 'Israeli spy van' investigation

The alleged "spy van" is reportedly owned by an Israel [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 November, 2019

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Authorities in Cyprus have called in an expert to assist in investigating a multi-million dollar van equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance technology.

Cyprus appointed an independent criminal law expert on Thursday to help investigate an alleged "spy van" reportedly owned by an Israeli citizen.

The multi-million-dollar vehicle, which was showcased in a Forbes video broadcast several months ago, is equipped with sophisticated surveillance technology.

Attorney General Costas Clerides said that because of the "seriousness of the case and the different legal aspects", the expert, Elias Stephanou, had been asked to help police.

The van is owned by Cyprus-registered Company WiSpear, whose founder and CEO is an Israeli former intelligence officer, Tal Dilian, a report said.

Forbes said the van's $9 million state-of-the-art equipment can monitor devices within a 500-metre (yard) radius, hack any phone and listen in on encrypted conversations.

The probe began after the opposition communist party AKEL asked what the government was doing about alleged activities undertaken in the van.

Earlier this month, police searched the company's premises in the southern coastal resort of Larnaca.

The van was seized on 17 November and is still in police possession.

Clerides said in a statement Stephanou would help investigate whether any offences had been committed that might violate the rights to privacy and confidential communication.

WiSpear denies any wrongdoing and says the vehicle was not used to spy on anybody in Cyprus, nor was it hired to do so.

"We would like to restate that the car has not been active within Cypriot territory other than for demo and field tests purposes only, solely on company-owned devices," a WiSpear statement last week said.

WiSpear said it was the victim of a "witch-hunt" and a "rumors campaign, full of innuendos and unsupported accusations by people with no authority on the subject."

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