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November 2017

Gamma International: The Macedonia files

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This PDF contains source documents showing how the UK approved export licences to Gamma International UK to supply sophisticated mobile phone surveillance equipment, known as IMSI catchers, to the Republic of Macedonia. The export licences were granted at a time when the Macedonian security services were engaged in illegal communications surveillance on a massive scale, targeting journalists, politicians and government ministers. The scandal dented the popularity of the country’s largest right-wing party – VMRO-DPMNE – and eventually ended its 10-year reign of power, when leaked tapes of intercepted conversations were made public by Zoran Zaev, leader of Macedonia’s centre-left party from February 2015.

Table Of Contents

  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office response to Computer Weekly FOI request
    Freedom of Information response letter from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, dated 29 August 2017, requesting (i) records of meeting between the FCO/British Embassy in Skopje and the Special Prosecutor in Macedonia between 2015 and 2017, and (ii) a search for documents containing the name “Gamma International” and “Gamma Group” from 2015 to 2017.
  • Arms Export Policy Department recommendation to approve export of surveillance equipment to Macedonia
    A redacted submission from the Foreign & Commonwealth’s Arms Export Policy Department recommending the approval of an export licence to supply equipment for geo-locating and tracking 3G mobile phones to the Ministry of the Interior in Macedonia. The name of the exporting company, Gamma International (UK) Limited, has been redacted.
  • Foreign Office correspondence on Gamma International and Gamma Group
    A redacted digest of emails held by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office containing (i) references to meetings between the FCO/British Embassy in Skopje and the Special Prosecutor in Macedonia between 2015 and 2017, and (ii) emails containing the name “Gamma International” and “Gamma Group” from 2015 to 2017.
  • Response from the government of Macedonia to Computer Weekly’s questions on illegal surveillance by the former administration
    Official response from the current Government of the Republic of Macedonia to questions from Computer Weekly correspondent, Tena Prelec, on the actions it is taking following the phone tapping scandal. The response references “the failure of quality control and supervision of the intelligence agencies’ operations” under the former government, and the new government’s plans to implement new controls on surveillance.
  • Gamma Group’s catalogue outlining the uses and surveillance capabilities of its mobile phone surveillance equipment
    Gamma Group’s sales brochure and catalogue outlining the capabilities of its mobile phone monitoring equipment (IMSI catchers). The devices are capable of covertly monitoring the unique identity of each mobile phone, can be used to track targets, intercept outgoing calls and SMS messages, turn off mobile phone coverage without alerting the phone owner. It offers a wide range of models, including long-range devices which can be covertly fitted into vehicles, and smaller surveillance units that can be carried around in backpacks or worn on a person.
  • Gamma Group’s FinFisher surveillance software price list 2014
    In 2015, the Canadian research group Citizen Lab found that another Gamma-marketed product, FinFisher – professional spyware designed for covert surveillance and access to target’s computer equipment, mobile phones and computer networks – was in use in Macedonia. This price list from 2014, released by Wikileaks, gives a breakdown of FinFisher’s capabilities.
  • Response from the Department for International Trade declining to disclose further details of exports by Gamma and Gamma International
    Response by the Department for International Trade, dated 4 October 2017, declining to disclose any further information on exports of surveillance equipment by Gamma and Gamma International, beyond the information already disclosed by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

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