Cypriot police have arrested three individuals in connection with an investigation into the controversial “spy van” owned by an Israeli company registered on the island.
According to police, two men aged 30 and 35, along with a 41-year-old woman, were detained Thursday on multiple charges including conspiracy to commit a felony and improper handling of data under the protection of privacy laws.
Local media described the three suspects as local employees of the company that owns the surveillance vehicle, the SpearHead 360 which is said to be capable of hacking multiple devices all at once.
The suspects are also facing criminal charges related to breaching telecommunications operability laws as well as knowingly making false representations of fact in order to gain registration.
Three Greek Cypriot suspects face multiple charges including conspiracy to commit a felony and improper handling of data under the protection of privacy laws
Earlier this month, WiSpear CEO Tal Dilian, who owns the high-tech company and confiscated “spy van” in Cyprus, accused police of not doing much to dispel false rumours.
Dilian, a former commander of a technology unit within Israeli intelligence, said his company was the victim of a witch hunt and that he was primarily disappointed with Cypriot police for “delaying on purpose or not having the necessary expertise to understand the core of the investigation.”
The van was confiscated by police following allegations that the company had been spying on local citizens. The allegations emerged after a summer interview with Forbes magazine along with a video shot in Larnaca, was picked up by local media in Cyprus when politicians raised questions over possible unlawful surveillance activities including spying on political parties or on behalf of politicians.
Last month, local media said thousands of email addresses were collected from the van but it had not been clear at the time whether the data was scooped up in violation of privacy laws.
Dilian says his company was evaluating the option of leaving Cyprus and halting all business activities on the island, adding that foreign investors would never want to tolerate an “unstable business or legal environment” where they could have no protection against vicious rumours.
Attorney General Costas Clerides, who previously did not interfere with the police investigation, stepped in last month and assigned attorney Elias Stefanou to investigate whether any offences were committed under the privacy laws of the Republic, including constitutional violations over the rights of citizens to a private life.
The three detained suspects, all described as Greek Cypriots, are expected to appear in court on Friday for their remand hearing.