A prosecutor in Germany has indicted former executives of surveillance technology company FinFisher GmbH, accusing them of unlawfully supplying the Turkish secret services with spyware that could be used to hack into phones and computers. From a report: In an announcement on Monday, a spokesperson for the Munich Public Prosecutor’s said that the office had carried out an “extensive and complex” investigation of the company following searches of 15 properties. Four of the company’s managing directors had violated foreign trade laws, according to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office named the indicted directors only as “G,” “H,” “T” and “D.” FinFisher, prosecutors say, signed a contact in January 2015 worth $5.4 million to supply spyware to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, but did not receive the necessary export approval from German authorities. Instead, company executives sought to conceal the deal by transferring the technology through another company they had established in Bulgaria, according to the prosecutor, though all business activities were still controlled and coordinated out of Munich.

Violations of export licensing requirements under Germany’s Foreign Trade and Payments can be punishable with a prison sentence of between three months and five years. The prosecutor’s office pointed to a particular provision of the law that states a prison sentence of not less than one year shall be imposed if a person if found to have acted for the secret service of a foreign power. The Munich prosecutor began investigating FinFisher in the summer of 2019, after a coalition of advocacy groups filed a criminal complaint against the company, alleging that it had supplied its spyware to Turkey without obtaining the required license from Germany’s federal government. The spyware had been used in Turkey to infect the phones of government critics, monitoring their calls, text messages, photos and location data, according to a technical report published by the digital rights group Access Now.

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