Greek Cypriot police arrest staff of Israeli-owned firm

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Greek Cypriot police arrested three Greek Cypriot employees of Israeli firms for alleged espionage, issuing arrest warrants for other three Israelis, according to local media.

According to reports by the daily Phileleftheros, the suspects were arrested on Thursday and were brought before a court on Friday.

At court, the suspects were investigated for over 13 crimes including “conspiracy to commit a crime” and offenses relating to protecting personal data.

The court ruled to release the suspects pending trial.

Two of the suspects are men between ages 30-35 working for Wispear, and the other a woman employed by NCIS. Both companies are owned by Israeli nationals, reports said.

WiSpear has denied any wrongdoing, saying it neither sold nor rented “intelligence systems” to Greek Cypriot authorities and doesn’t provide “intelligence services” for clients.

The company said the van was used on the island only for demonstration purposes and field testing and with the knowledge of local authorities.

Concerns about the van, which authorities confiscated, were first raised by the leader of the communist-rooted party AKEL.

Greek Cyprus’ attorney general, Costas Clerides, appointed an independent criminal investigator to help police. Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades said he would “never tolerate” violations of anyone’s privacy.

WiSpear was incorporated in 2013 and began operating four years later. It is run by Tal Dillian, an Israeli who an earlier Forbes video showed boasting about the vehicle’s surveillance capabilities.

In a statement issued two weeks ago, Dillian described a “witch hunt” against him and insisted that his company didn’t commit “any illegal activity whatsoever.”

He faulted Greek Cypriot investigators for “either stalling” or lacking “the necessary technical expertise” to handle the case and charged that law enforcement was either being “influenced by the media” or “coming under pressure” by unnamed “parties” to issue arrest warrants.

“Given the fact that our company is a Cypriot company, it is now very clear that the hostility, especially from certain political parties, is targeting our Israeli ethnicity and aims to destabilize Cypro-Israeli relations,” Dillian said.

Dillian said any arrests would be “legally unjustifiable” and insisted that he fully cooperated with investigators from the outset of the probe.

He added that he was considering moving his business out of Greek Cyprus, saying “this kind of behavior by authorities will hurt the country appealing to any foreign investors and international companies.”

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