UK firm offered Egypt software to spy on rebels

British company Gamma International offered to sell Egyptian security forces a program for infecting computers and hacking into email and other communications sent by govermment opponents, documents reveal.

The UK's Guardian newspaper reports that two Egyptian human rights activists found the proposals alongside torture equipment when they entered the headquarters of former president Hosni Mubarak's State Security Investigations service (SSI) last month.

One document, written in English and dated 29th June 2010, offered 'FinSpy' software, as well as hardware, installation and training to the SSI in an invoice that totalled €287,000 (£255,000).

In other documents written in Arabic, SSI operatives confirmed that the software had enabled them to take "full control" of PCs, as well as breaking into Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo accounts. The software was also reported to have been successfully used to hack into Skype accounts, usually considered secure due to their encryption.

Cairo-based blogger and doctor Mostafa Hussein, who found the documents, said: "This proposal was sent to a department well known for torture, for abuse of human rights, for spying on political campaigners. This company, Gamma, should be exposed as collaborators in the crimes of trying to invade our privacy and arrest activists."

Other documents found at the SSI's headquarters, one dated as recently as 1st January 2011, reveal that the offer of the software had come from a subsidiary of Gamma International, Modern Communications System.

Gamma International said in a statement: "Gamma International UK Limited manufactures equipment for dealing with security related threats and it supplies only to governments.

"Gamma International UK Limited has not supplied any of its Finfisher suite of products or related training etc to the Egyptian government."

The company went on to state that it "complies, in all its dealings, with all relevant UK legislation and regulation".