Amesys

Unknown-3Amesys sold its EAGLE spyware to Libya while Muammar Gaddafi was still in power. It was used to spy on journalists and human rights activists there. As a result, the company is now being sued in France by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) for complicity in torture. The lawsuit is still pending.

The company

Originally called i2e, Amesys is a French firm specializing in information technology that was founded in 1979. It was reorganized under the name of Amesys in 2004 and was taken over by the French technology company Bull in 2010. In 2011, a French-based NGO, FIDH, made a complaint regarding cases of complicity of torture [1]. In 2013, Amesys divested its EAGLE System to another company, Nexa Technologies. EAGLE is now being developed and marketed by a group of former Amesys employees led by Stéphane Salies, a former Bull director [2].

Portfolio

The EAGLE System allows government agencies to analyse web traffic, store the data and process it for later use by police or intelligence agencies.

EAGLE core technology by AMESYS is designed to help law enforcement agencies and intelligence organizations to reduce crime levels, to protect from terrorism threats and to identify new incoming security danger [3].

The system consists of a network probe, storage systems and monitoring centres for the purpose of analysis. The software allows for the creation of files on individual users, examples of which were found when anti-Gaddafi rebels raided the offices of Libya’s secret police. EAGLE is based on Deep Packet Inspection technology and can analyse all kinds of web-related activities. The Amesys documentation lists the various kinds of online activity that can be inspected, including email (SMTP, POP, IMAP as well as webmail), Voice over IP, different chat protocols as well as http-web traffic and search engine queries.

Amesys involvement in Libya

Amesys products have been detected in Libya, where the company had a contract with Gaddafi’s secret police. During a raid on offices of the secret police, Wall Street Journal reporters found EAGLE System manuals as well as individual files on Libyan citizens carrying the EAGLE logo [4] [5]. Those spied on by the government included the Libyan journalist Khaled Mehiri. The Wall Street Journal reported [6] that the secret police had for months used Amesys tools to monitor Mehiri’s emails (including his correspondence with Al Jazeera) and Facebook posts, printing out messages and storing them. In January 2011, as the Arab Spring was peaking in neighbouring Tunisia and unrest was building in Libya, Mehiri was summoned by intelligence officials and pressured not to publish statements by leading anti-Gaddafi activists. The surveillance continued thereafter. Fearing for his family’s safety, he went into hiding for several months until the end of the war.

The role of Amesys in Libya is currently being investigated for complicity in torture in France as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Paris-based human rights NGO, FIDH, which is acting for five Libyan citizens who were spied on with the EAGLE System. [7]

“The court of appeal has confirmed that there was sufficient evidence to start investigating this matter, despite the road blocks erected by the Paris prosecutor’s office, which was obviously reluctant to allow an impartial and independent inquiry,” said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH honorary president, FIDH legal counsel and head of its legal action group.

In september 2011, Amesys made a press release related to the information published by several media regarding its activities in Libya. [8]

Contacted by RWB on the 06th March of 2013, Amesys had not replied at the moment we published this report