An investigation by Wall Street Journal claims Huawei technicians helped authorities in Uganda to intercept encrypted messages to penetrate a WhatsApp chat group in which musician and politician Bobi Wine is a member.
Bobi Wine is a fierce critic of President Yoweri Museveni.
Ugandan authorities supposedly used messages in the WhatsApp group to thwart plans for street rallies and arrested Wine and dozens of his supporters.
Huawei Technologies, one of the world’s largest telecommunications company, dominates African markets, where it has sold security tools that governments use for digital surveillance and censorship.
In Zambia, Huawei technicians allegedly helped the government access the phones and Facebook pages of opposition bloggers behind a pro-opposition news site that criticised President Edgar Lungu.
The Huawei employees located the bloggers and were in contact with the police units deployed to arrest them.
Spokespeople from both Uganda and Zambia’s governments confirmed that they are working with Huawei technicians.
The investigation did not find evidence that Huawei executives in China knew or approved of the activity described in Uganda and Zambia, and it didn’t find that any aspect of Huawei’s network in particular made the spying possible.
In a statement provided to Wall Street Journal, a Huawei spokesperson wrote; “Huawei rejects completely these unfounded and inaccurate allegations against our business operations. Our internal investigation shows clearly that Huawei and its employees have not been engaged in any of the activities alleged. We have neither the contracts, nor the capabilities, to do so.”
Bobi Wine, who said that he will challenge Museveni for presidency, was recently charged with intending to annoy, alarm or ridicule him.
The singer – real name Robert Kyagulanyi – who is already facing a treason charge, appeared in court last week to answer to the charges, which he denied.
The latest charges are in connection to an incident in August 2018 when he was accused of leading a protest that led to the stoning of President Museveni’s motorcade.
The accusation comes days after the death of Ugandan Musician, Ziggy Wine, who succumbed to injuries after being abducted and tortured by unknown people.
The artist was a close friend of Bobi Wine and a supporter of the resistance movement in the country.
The fresh charges against Bobi Wine appear to be part of a systematic clampdown on key opposition figures in the country.
Just last week, scholar, Stella Nyanzi, who is a vocal critic of Museveni, was sentenced to 18 months in prison over ‘vulgar’ posts on social media about the president.
-Additional reports by agencies