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Bruton: Irish software in Syria is not designed to suppress democracy

An investigation has found no direct supply of products from Ireland which “prevent citizens exercising their fundamental democratic rights”.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATION has found that Irish companies did not supply the Syrian government with technology which has since been used to block and filter text messages sent in that country.

Enterprise minister Richard Bruton has said that an investigation undertaken by his Department has found that the products, supplied by Irish copmanies AdaptiveMobile and Cellusys, is actually intended for use to filter spam multimedia messages.

“I understand the exported software is designed to protect mobile users from spam, viruses etc., and is not intended to prevent citizens exercising their fundamental democratic rights of free speech and assembly,” Bruton said in a written statement to the Dáil.

“My understanding is that the software was provided to telecom providers and not to any Government organisation or agency,” he added.

Bruton said he had received information directly from the companies connected with the products, and that this was being analysed by this Department.

The minister added, in response to questions from Dublin Central independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan, that he consulted with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, before issuing any export licence for products intended for any country “where there is civil or military strife”.

The two ministers would always consider the potential human rights implications relating to the exports of any goods before they allowed them to leave Ireland, he added.

Bruton launched the investigation after it was first reported in February that products made by AdaptiveMobile were being used by mobile network MTN Syria to filter communications which could be used to organise protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Restrictions agreed upon late last year, and augmented by EU leaders in February, mean EU firms are now forbidden from exporting any technology or software to Syria.

“My Department works in close co-operation with the Revenue and Customs Service to ensure the effective application of the EU’s sanctions regime,” Bruton said.

In a statement to this website in February, AdaptiveMobile said it had never had any relationship with the Syrian government, and that its three-year support agreement with MTN for its anti-virus products had expired in 2011.

Read: Minister to investigate whether Irish technology being used in Syrian repression

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Gavan Reilly

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