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U.S. Providing Iraq With Phone, SMS Monitoring Devices

There are fears the telecommunications monitoring technology could be used for political reasons.
BAGHDAD -- A U.S. military official says Washington will provide Iraqi authorities with technology to monitor and record phone calls and phone-text messages with the aim of preventing terrorist attacks, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports (RFI).

Geoffrey Buchanan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, told RFI a deal was signed with Iraq's Interior Ministry to provide it with the new technology. He said the agreement is part of an Iraqi training program.

With the new high-tech devices, Iraqi authorities will be able to monitor at least 5,000 mobile phones and fixed phone lines simultaneously, both domestic and international calls.

Although the technology is important in fighting against frequent terror attacks in Iraq, several politicians are concerned the equipment could be used to monitor the phone calls and messages of Iraqi politicians for political reasons. They are also worried by the fact that the technology will be controlled by the Interior Ministry.

Suhair al-Juburi, head of the Transport and Communications Committee of the supervisory entity Council of Baghdad, has warned against such practices.

She said the phone calls and text messages of politicians are full of information that could be used against them or otherwise abused.

Opponents of the Interior Ministry's use of the new technology point out that Article 40 of the Iraqi Constitution guarantees freedom of communication and contact in all spheres and states that such communication can only be intercepted when authorized by a court.

Read more in Arabic here