Huawei has been helping Uganda President Yoweri Museveni to spy on a pop star turned political sensation, Bobi Wine,
Technicians from the Chinese tech giant, employed by Museveni have been intercepting Bobi Wine’s private communications and also his social media accounts.
According to an investigative piece done by The Wall Street Journal, a group of six intelligence officers struggled to contain a threat to the 33-year regime of President Yoweri Museveni launched by Bobi Wine last year.
Museveni ordered Uganda’s cyber-surveillance unit to intercept Bobi Wines encrypted communications, using the broad powers of a 2010 law that gives the government the ability “to secure its multidimensional interests.” At that time Bobi Wine was returning from Washington DC after the US government backed his opposition movement.
The hired Huawei employees based on the third floor of the capital’s police headquarters spent days trying to penetrate Mr. Wine’s WhatsApp and Skype communications using spyware, but failed. Then they asked for help from the staff working in their offices from Huawei, Uganda’s top digital supplier.
Authorities used this intercepted information to scupper Bobi Wine’s plans to organize street rallies and arrested the politician and dozens of his supporters.
This helped Museveni tame Bobi Wine’s rising influence in Uganda.
This is not the first time Huawei is being accused of hacking into private communications.
Since 2012 the U.S. government has accused Huawei—the world’s largest maker of telecom equipment and the second-largest manufacturer of smartphones—of being a potential tool for the Chinese government to spy abroad, after decades of alleged corporate espionage by state-backed Chinese actors.
Prof Makau Mutua has since asked the country to be aware of the threat associated with Huawei following the Ugandan incident.
Beware of Huawei. Its Technicians Helped African Governments Spy on Political Opponents @ahmednasirlaw @WMutunga @bettymurungi @DonaldBKipkorir @ItsGeorgeKegoro @Maina_Kiai @johngithongo https://t.co/EhVVbFjjBE
— Prof Makau Mutua (@makaumutua) August 14, 2019