Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications company and the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, has helped African governments spy on political opponents. Beijing has also sold mass video surveillance to Ecuador and is advising a growing number of autocratic regimes on “information management.”
Huawei employees reportedly helped Uganda’s cyber-surveillance unit break into the WhatsApp group belonging to Bobi Wine, a political opponent to the current Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni. The Huawei employees used spyware made by an Israeli company to break into the WhatsApp group, which led to Wine’s arrest, as well as the arrest of dozens of his supporters.
In Zambia, Huawei technicians reportedly helped the government access the phones and Facebook pages belonging to bloggers who oppose Zambian president Edgar Lungu’s regime. This allowed the Zambian cyber-surveillance unit to locate the bloggers’ locations, which led to their arrest. In both instances in Uganda and Zambia, the Journal’s report that Huawei helped those governments to spy on their political opponents were corroborated by senior security officials.