Group urges Congress to probe spying partnership with Ethiopian tyranny

ESAT News (October 3, 2017)

A rights defender urged the U.S. Congress to ask the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense on the status of the surveillance partnership with the Ethiopian regime to ensure that the U.S. is not facilitating human rights violations in Ethiopia.

“It is high time for the US administration and Congress to reckon with the human rights abuses of the Ethiopian government, and how the sharing of national security technologies is enabling the regime,” writes Felix Horne, senior researcher with the Human Rights Watch.

The National Security Agency (NSA) documents provided by Snowden revealed that the U.S. set up several listening posts in Ethiopia in 2002 to intercept communications from Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, as part of its regional counterterrorism efforts. Activists and dissidents fear that the U.S. is helping the brutal tyranny in Ethiopia to spy on them while paying lip service about respect for human rights.

“Congress should ask both the NSA and its parent agency, the Defense Department, for clarity on the status of its surveillance partnership with Ethiopia and what protections are in place to ensure the US is not in any way facilitating the serious abuses being committed by the Ethiopian army and other government agencies — abuses that ultimately undermine US interests in the region,” Horne said.

Horne penned an article published on Just Security, an online forum that analyzes U.S. national security law and policy focusing on recent disclosures by Edward Snowden that details the support and training by NSA to the Ethiopian regime on surveillance against citizens and neighboring countries. “In the case of Ethiopia, such surveillance powers can play a significant role in a government’s criminalization of dissent and politically motivated detentions,” Horne writes.

Horne recalled that the the Ethiopian regime also used spyware to hack into electronic devices and spy on members of the Ethiopian Diaspora, including those in the United States