British government condemned for sale of surveillance equipment to repressive states

Friday, 20 September, 2019
  • In the past 12 months, surveillance exports licensed to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong
  • Post-Brexit government strategy to ramp up sales to Middle East, China and India

Campaign group Global Justice Now issues a damning briefing today on the British government’s sale of surveillance equipment to repressive regimes around the world.

‘Exporting repression’ analyses government figures to show that the government has licensed sales of telephone intercept and other surveillance equipment to repressive regimes in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain over the last year, despite well-document evidence that those regimes use surveillance equipment to crack down on human rights.
The group claims such sales are set to increase post-Brexit, as documented in a security export strategy released by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss last week, which lays out plans to boost security exports in the coming years, specifying increased sales to the Middle East, China and India.

Already this year, the UK approved £1.9m-worth of telecommunications interception equipment for export to Hong Kong just weeks before mass protests against the controversial proposed treaty with mainland China began.
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now said:
“The British government appears to be addicted to selling dangerous products to repressive regimes. How on earth can anyone think it is acceptable to export surveillance equipment to autocratic regimes which are known to use such equipment to crack down on human rights? We have been waiting to hear how the International Trade Secretary can justify such sales for over a year now, and have still not received remotely satisfactory answers.
“But it gets worse. Not only would the government appear to be in clear breach of its own guidelines on the licensing of surveillance exports, but they see this as a growth area post-Brexit. Only last week the government published its strategy to increase its sale of security equipment to some of the most repressive governments in the world. It would appear to be neither an accident or an oversight, but government policy to export repression around the world.”

For a copy of ‘Exporting repression: How Britain is supplying surveillance technology to human-rights abusing countries’ by Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard, see