"Cellebrite offers what it terms “digital forensic” solutions to law enforcement agencies around the world. Cellebrite’s flagship product is called the Universal Forensic Extraction Device. The product enables the extraction of data from locked mobile phones and their physical position without the owner’s consent. Cellebrite's main clients are Western police forces, but it also sells its products elsewhere – including, at least until now, Bangladesh."
Attempts were made to reach home minister Asaduzzaman Khan for comment on the matter, but he could not be reached.
Founded in 1918, Haartez is published in both Hebrew and English. The newspaper is known for its left-wing and liberal stances on domestic and foreign matters.
“In March, documents filed by human rights lawyer Eitay Mack to Israel's Supreme Court revealed that Cellebrite had dealings with a Bangladeshi unit known as the Rapid Action Battalion, which has been called a “death squad” by rights groups and has also been accused of persecuting LGBTQs in the Muslim country; according to Amnesty International, in 2018 the unit was responsible for 466 extrajudicial killings. The documents were filed as part of Mack's petition asking the Supreme Court to make the Defense Ministry explain why it continues to allow Cellebrite to export its products to Bangladesh,” said the report.
The report further said, “According to the documents filed by Mack, Cellebrite used a company based in Singapore as its proxy for its dealings with Bangladesh, which has no diplomatic ties with Israel and cannot do business directly with Israeli firms. Additionally, officers from the Rapid Action Battalion were also sent to Singapore to undergo training on Cellebrite's system in 2018 and 2019.”
Haaretz has learned that the company made the decision to halt sales to Bangladesh in early 2021, but that this decision was only made public in May, when Cellebrite sent the SEC an updated outline of its activities and revealed its full blacklist of countries that it will not do business with.
Haaretz said the Cellebrite in its SEC filing worte, “We pursue only those customers who we believe will act lawfully and not in a manner incompatible with privacy rights or human rights. For example, we have chosen not to do business in Bangladesh, Belarus, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Russia and Venezuela partially due to concerns regarding human rights and data security, and we may in the future decide not to operate in other countries or with other potential customers for similar reasons.”
In response the report, a representative for Cellebrite told Haaretz that the company “is committed to ethics as part of its core values and practice of work and has developed a very strong compliance framework. Cellebrite has strict licensing policies and restrictions that govern how customers may utilize our technology. Our sales decisions are also guided by internal parameters, which consider a potential customer’s human rights record and anti-corruption policies.”
“The misuse of Israeli technology has recently made headlines as part of the global investigation into NSO Group and its Pegasus spyware. The Project Pegasus investigation revealed that over 180 journalists across the world were selected as potential targets by NSO’s clients. Haaretz – one of over 15 news outlets to participate in the project, led by a nonprofit called Forbidden Stories – helped reveal how the sale of offensive Israeli spyware played a role in Israel’s outreach to hostile nations, including Muslim states. Bangladesh was also named in the investigation after possible targets with Bangladeshi numbers were also found, however it is unclear who was the client and if NSO also did business with the South Asian country,” the Haaretz added.