Prosecutor in Germany recited accusations against former executives of the surveillance technology company FinFisher GmbH, accusing them of illegally supplying Turkish intelligence with spyware that could be used to hack into phones and computers.
In a statement on Monday, a spokesman for the Munich Public Prosecutor's Office said his office was conducting an "extensive and complex" investigation into FinFisher. Four of the company's chief executives had violated Foreign Trade laws, according to prosecutors.
The prosecution named the accused directors only as “G,” “H,” “T” and “D.” who signed a deal in January 2015 worth $5,4 million to supply spyware to Turkey's National Intelligence Agency.
However, the deal did not receive the necessary export approval from the German authorities.
But FinFisher executives tried to transfer the technology through another company they had set up in Bulgaria, according to the prosecutor.
Violations of export permits under Germany's Foreign Trade and Payments Act are punishable by three months to five years in prison.
The prosecution pointed to a specific provision of the same law that prescribes a prison term of at least one year if a person is found to have acted for the secret service of a foreign power.
The Munich public prosecutor began investigating FinFisher in the summer of 2019, when a coalition of advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that it had supplied spyware to Turkey without having the required license from Germany's federal government.
Spyware had been used in Turkey to infect the phones of government critics, monitoring their calls, text messages, photos and location data, according to a technical report published by digital rights group Access Now.