‘They Are Looking For Money’ — South Sudan Minister Slams UK Watchdog Over Spy Claims
“Let them earn their living in other ways other than writing fictitious reports”
South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei has slammed global rights watchdog Amnesty International for writing a “biased report” against security operatives in the war-torn country.
In a recent report, Amnesty International accuses South Sudanese National Security Service (NSS) of using abusive surveillance to terrorize journalists, activists and critics, leading to a climate of intense fear and self-censorship.
The report, titled: “These Walls Have Ears” – The Chilling Effect of Surveillance in South Sudan,” says documents that show an Israeli company, Verint Systems Ltd, supplied communications interception technology to the South Sudanese government at least between 2015 and 2017, which is being used to intercept communication and stifle free speech.
“Unchecked and unlawful surveillance by the NSS is having a chilling effect on civil society and peaceful activism. The threat of surveillance is a weapon in itself – government critics and human rights activists told us they live in constant fear of being spied on,” says Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa.
However, according to Makuei, the report is fictitious and was concocted by people seeking to earn a living.
“These are baseless and unfounded reports written against the government of South Sudan so that people earn a living,” he was quoted as saying by local Eye Radio.
“Let them earn their living in other ways other than writing fictitious reports in order to tarnish the image of the government of South Sudan. I think this person must be writing inside his room in a hotel in South Sudan.”
Makuei admits that the government purchased a surveillance machines for intercepting information but claims the gadget is for surveilling criminals and not the people of South Sudan.
“Those are people who are against the law or those who are in conflict with the law. They are the ones that must be tracked down, not any individual who is using his telephone,” he added.