Palestinian Authority Accused of CIA-Backed Wiretapping Program

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Palestinian Authority stands accused of conducting a massive wiretapping program with the help of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in a lawsuit brought by a former intelligence chief and a prominent lawyer, according to media reports on Tuesday.

The lawsuit is based on revelations contained in an anonymous document which alleges that the PA security services carried out phone surveillance of thousands of Palestinians, including politicians, terrorists, judges, lawyers and activists.

The whistleblower who produced the 37-page document, shared widely on social media, claims to be a former member of the surveillance unit who quit “this dirty job” several months ago, in part over collusion with the U.S. The wiretapping allegedly began in 2014.

It said that in 2013, the then-head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service requested technical support from the CIA, which agreed to provide it, on conditon of oversight power. The document said the surveillance equipment was supplied by ISS World, a company based in Virginia.

Palestinian bar association head Jawad Obeidat confirmed to The Associated Press that transcripts of his phone conversations were accurate.

“I made these phone calls and this is evidence that the leaked report is true,” said Obeidat, who has been involved in recent protests by lawyers after a colleague was arrested in a court room during a case against the government.

“This is a blatant violation of human rights,” he said.

Tawfiq Tirawi, PA intelligence chief from 1994 to 2008, and a well-known critic of Mahmoud Abbas, also said he checked into it and is convinced the material is authentic.

The CIA declined comment.

Adnan Damiri, the spokesman for the security services, dismissed the charges on Monday as “nonsense.”