Huawei Saga: Police Dismisses Media Claims as Political Move to Favor Bobi Wine

Police spokesperson, CP Fred Enanga

The Uganda Police has Tuesday come out to task the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Monitor newspaper to provide proof that Police uses its (Huawei) technology for spying and surveiling opposition politicians.

A couple of days back, The WSJ published a report claiming that technicians of Huawei Telecom helped the Ugandan and Zambian security officials to spy on opposition politicians particularly Bobi Wine using different systems including the recently installed security cameras in Uganda.

The WSJ in its article said that government with the help of Huawei was listening in WhatsApp, and Skype conversations of opposition politician also legislator for Kyadondo East, Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine).

The article published Wednesday claimed that in two separate cases in Uganda and Zambia, the Journal found that Huawei employees used its technology to aid domestic spying on behalf of governments in those countries.

Senior security officials are quoted as having stated that they worked directly with the Huawei employees in different countries. They said that technicians from Huawei have, in at least two cases, personally helped African governments to spy on their political opponents, including intercepting their encrypted communications and social media, and using cell data to track their whereabouts.

Huawei Telecom has since refuted the story describing it as a fabrication aimed at tarnishing its reputation and threatening its businesses across the world.

Now, Police spokesperson, CP Fred Enanga, has in a statement said that Police has an existing contract with Huawei to install CCTV cameras countrywide as a measure to strengthen law and order, adding that their (Huawei) contract including both the hardware and software were thoroughly evaluated and there were no short comings in the engineering and policing processes.

According to Enanga, the first phase of the installation of CCTV cameras within the KMP areas is in advanced stages with 85% completion emphasising that their partnership is limited to camera installation to aid investigations on crime.

“We want to assure all Ugandans that there are no concerns in using Huawei technology. Our relationship is purely business and does not prohibit us from purchasing or using their telecommunications and surveillance products in addressing crime and safety in our country. The cameras are already transforming modern day policing in Uganda, with facial recognition and artificial intelligence as part of policing and security”.

“They are also helping us to be more accountable through increased visibility and better response mechanisms,” said Enanga in a statement.

He explains that CCTV are becoming a wide spread feature in Ugandan life, where citizens are more secure and conscious in public spaces with CCTVs thus protecting the public from criminals.

As such Enanga says the publication is intended to sabotage the activities of the Uganda Police.

“We strongly believe the Article by the WSJ that was carried forward by the Daily Monitor is being used to sabotage and smear the UPF, and give political mileage to a particular member of the opposition and other interests,” explains Enanga.

“We wonder why they would single out one leader, yet there are many other players in the political arena of Uganda including other politicians, activists, Members of Parliament, Journalists, to mention a few,” he adds.

Consequently the Police spokesperson has petitioned the two media companies to release information proving that the anti-crime infrastructure being installed by the Police, has been secretly used to extract personal information from private cell phones.

“We have seen the same accusations fronted against many other countries and institutions, using the Huawei intelligent monitoring systems. We believe its pure sabotage and a trade war strategy against Huawei and its clients,” he says.

Enanga reiterates that the claims in the published article will not put any pressure on the Police and that they will continue observing their Memorandum of Understanding with Huawei and not help promote propaganda wars in the fight for the export of automated technology for policing.

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