Wednesday, August 20, 2014

EFF to Ethiopia: Illegal Wiretapping Is Illegal, Even for Governments

AUGUST 19, 2014 | BY NATE CARDOZO

Earlier this week, EFF told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that Ethiopia must be held accountable for its illegal wiretapping of an American citizen. Foreign governments simply do not have a get-out-of-court-free card when they commit serious felonies in America against Americans. This case is the centerpiece of our U.S. legal efforts to combat state sponsored malware.

In February 2014, EFF filed suit against the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on behalf of our client, Mr. Kidane, an Ethiopian by birth who has been a U.S. citizen over a decade. Mr. Kidane discovered traces of Gamma International's FinSpy, a sophisticated spyware product which its maker claims is sold exclusively to governments and law enforcement, on his laptop at his home in suburban Maryland. A forensic examination of his computer showed that the Ethiopian government had been recording Mr. Kidane’s Skype calls, as well as monitoring his web and email usage. The monitoring, which violates both the federal Wiretap Act and Maryland state law, was accomplished using spyware that captured his activities and then reported them back to a command and control server in Ethiopia controlled by the government. The infection was active from October 2012, through March 2013, and was stopped just days after researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab released a report exposing Ethiopia's use of use of FinSpy. The report specifically referenced the very IP address of the Ethiopian government server responsible for the command and control of the spyware on Mr. Kidane’s laptop.

The Ethiopian government responded to the suit with the troubling claim that it—and every other foreign government—should be completely immune from suit for wiretapping American citizens on American soil. Ethiopia’s filing rests on several logic-challenged premises. Ethiopia claims that the recording of Mr. Kidane’s Skype calls and Internet activity at his home in Maryland actually took place in Ethiopia, and is therefore beyond the reach of any U.S. court. Worse still, Ethiopia claims that it had the "discretion" to violate U.S. law, reducing the Wiretap Act to something more like a traffic violation than a serious felony. Interestingly, Ethiopia does not actually deny that it wiretapped Mr. Kidane.

Yesterday, EFF and its co-counsel at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, filed a response knocking down each of Ethiopia’s arguments, noting that not even the U.S. government is allowed to do what Ethiopia claims it had the right to do here: wiretap Americans in America with no legal process whatsoever. We argue that Ethiopia must be held accountable for wiretapping Mr. Kidane, just as any other actor would be. Neither its status as a government nor the fact that it launched its attack on Mr. Kidane from Ethiopia gives it carte blanche to ignore the law. If Ethiopia legitimately needed to collect information about Americans for an investigation, it could negotiate a deal with the U.S., called a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which would allow it to seek U.S. assistance for something like a wiretap. Otherwise, there simply is no “international spying” exception to the law for foreign governments, nor should there be. When sovereign governments act, especially when they invade the privacy of ordinary people, they must do so within the bounds of the law. And when foreign governments break U.S. law, U.S. courts have the power to hold them accountable.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Egypt says it has new 'vision' for Ethiopia's dam

New 'vision' won't affect Egypt's share of Nile water, says country's irrigation minister, as talks are planned to take place in Sudan later this month
Egypt's Irrigation Minister Hossam El-Moghazi told privately owned Mehwar channel that Egypt has a new "vision" regarding Ethiopia's planned Grand Renaissance Dam ahead of another round of talks in the Sudanese capital.

In a phone interview, El-Moghazi said the Egyptian delegation will head to Khartoum on 24 August for two days of discussions.

"Egypt has a new vision, that will not affect Egypt's water share, and we are expecting that the other party responds to it," said El-Moghazi.

Meanwhile, the minister said that Egyptian satellite images have revealed that construction has not yet begun on the part of the dam which will reserve the Nile's water.

The project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government since May 2013, when images of the dam's construction stirred public anxiety about the possible effect on Egypt's potable water supply.

Ethiopia maintains that Egypt's water share will not be negatively affected by the successful completion of the project, set to be Africa's largest hydroelectric dam.

The upcoming tripartite talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were initially planned to take place in Cairo but were later moved to Khartoum.

The talks are expected to develop seven main points that Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn previously discussed during a meeting in late June – among them fostering dialogue and cooperation between the two countries as well as regional projects to meet the growing demand for water.
source aharam

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Adoption executive pleads guilty to Ethiopia scam.....the Ethiopian government knew this scam, they are guility too

Washington - A former executive with a US-based international adoption agency which sought to connect American families with Ethiopian children has admitted to fraud, a US justice department statement said on Wednesday.

Alisa Bivens, the former foreign programme director of international adoption guides (IAG), an adoption agency in North and South Carolina, pleaded guilty to bribing foreign officials and submitting fraudulent documents to the US state department regarding adoptions from Ethiopia.

Bivens, aged 42, and other co-conspirators, filed false documentation including contracts of adoption signed by orphanages in Ethiopia even though some of the children had never stayed in nor been cared for by the orphanages involved.

Bivens also admitted bribing two Ethiopian officials in order to secure their assistance in facilitating the fraudulent adoptions.

One of the officials, a teacher at a government school was given cash and other valuables in order to provide non-public medical information and social history information for potential adoptees.

The second official, the head of a regional ministry for women's and children's affairs in Ethiopia, took money and expenses-paid foreign trips in exchange for waving through IAG's applications for inter-country adoptions.

Bivens will be sentenced at a later date, the justice department said.

Ethiopia and its press The noose tightens

A RANKING that countries do not aspire to ascend is the one compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based group. It reckons that Ethiopia is Africa’s second-worst jailer of journalists, ahead only of its ultra-repressive neighbour and bitter enemy, Eritrea. Cementing its lamentable reputation, on August 4th Ethiopia briefly resumed the trial of ten journalists and bloggers, nine of whom it has kept in prison since April; one is being tried in absentia. The court proceedings are to start again in earnest on August 20th.

The ten are accused of several offences, including breaches of the country’s controversial anti-terrorism laws. These include having links to banned opposition groups and trying to cause instability via social media. The government says the journalists and bloggers are connected to two groups that it deems terrorist organisations: the Oromo Liberation Front, a rebel outfit that seeks a better deal for Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, which predominates in the south; and Ginbot 7, a leading opposition movement formed after widespread protests following Ethiopia’s general election in 2005.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Blogger files $120 million countersuit against Ethiopia’s government, a Saudi billionaire, and U.S. law firm

PRESS RELEASE

ATLANTA (August 4, 2014) – A U.S.-based blogger who operates a popular Ethiopian news and opinion website has filed a $120 million counter lawsuit against the Government of Ethiopia, a major U.S. law firm named DLA Piper, Saudi billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi and others on Monday morning.

The blogger, Mr. Elias Kifle, who writes on ethiopianreview.com, filed the suit in Atlanta at the U.S. District Court for Northern Georgia District.

The suit names DLA Piper, Mr Mohammed Al Amoudi and his partner Mr Jemal Ahmed, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia Mr Debretsion Gebremichael, Ethiopian government’s chief of security Mr Getachew Assefa, and the Government of Ethiopia.

In his suit, Mr Kifle alleges “civil rights violations,” “abuse of process,” and “economic harm.” He accuses the defendants of serially harassing him, hindering his constitutionally protected work, causing emotional distress to his family, and causing severe economic harm to him.

Mr Kifle also accuses DLA Piper, a large law firm with 4,000 lawyers, of extortion, racketeering and a relentless campaign of harassment on behalf of the Ethiopian government and its supporters.

The suit is a counterclaim to a defamation suit that was filed against Mr Kifle by Al Amoudi’s partner Jemal Ahmed, who owns large farms in Ethiopia and exports farm products to Saudi Arabia through his companies, Saudi Star and Horizon Plantations. Mr Ahmed accused Mr Kifle of falsely reporting that he is engaged in human trafficking and grabbing of land from small farmers.


For more info: ethrev@gmail.com

Source Zegabi

UK summons Ethiopian diplomat over opposition official's arrest

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain summoned Ethiopia's chargé d'affaires on Monday to raise its concerns about the arrest of a British national being held in Ethiopia who has been sentenced to death over his involvement with an opposition political group.

Andargachew Tsige was sentenced to death in 2009 in absentia and another trial handed him life behind bars three years later. He was arrested in Yemen earlier this year and extradited to Ethiopia.

On Monday, Britain summoned one of Ethiopia's top diplomats in London to meet Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds, who expressed "deep concern" that Andargachew had not been granted access to the British consulate.

"Mr Simmonds asked the chargé to urge his government to deliver on previous commitments to provide consular access without further delay, and to provide assurances that they do not intend to carry out the death penalty imposed in absentia," a statement from the Foreign Office said.

Andargachew, secretary-general of the Ginbot 7 group, was among 20 opposition figures and journalists charged with conspiring with rebels, plotting attacks and attempting to topple the government.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Obama: Attendees Will Be Screened for Ebola Before U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit... that include all African Leaders?

President Obama announced Friday that African leaders attending a summit in Washington, D.C., next week will be screened for Ebola.
At least 729 people have died and more than 1,300 people have fallen ill from the viral disease in the worst outbreak ever, primarily affecting Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

"We're making sure we're doing screening as [they leave from their home airports] and some additional screening here," Obama said. Attendees who had "even a marginal risk ... of having been exposed" to Ebola could be screened after arriving in the U.S, he added.

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, held from Aug. 4 - 6, will welcome about 50 representatives from nations across Africa to Washington, D.C.

The summit is intended to "build on the progress made since the President’s trip to Africa last summer, advance the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa, and highlight America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people," according to the White House. It is the largest event any U.S. president has held to welcome African leaders.

Attendees will visit the White House, the State Department, the World Bank and Capitol Hill.

The Ebola outbreak is keeping leaders from Liberia and Sierra Leone from attending.



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