x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

US hits UAE company

Internet blocking devices sold to Syria.

WASHINGTON // The US commerce department has banned a UAE company from receiving items under the jurisdiction of American export controls after it was found to have shipped internet filters to Syria.

The devices, made by Blue Coat Systems of Sunnyvale, California, can be used by the government of Bashar Al Assad to block pro-democracy websites and identify dissidents, the commerce department said on Friday.

The UAE company, using the names Infotec and Info Tech, ordered multiple Blue Coat devices in December 2010 from an authorised distributor in the UAE. The devices ended up in Syria, according to the Commerce Department.

"It is vital that we keep technology that can be used to further the repression of the Syrian people out of the hands of the Syrian government," said Eric Hirschhorn, the undersecretary for industry and security.

Steve Schick, a Blue Coat spokesman, declined to comment. Blue Coat has said its products were "transferred illegally" into Syria by a distributor. The company said it "does not sell to countries embargoed by the US".

Human Rights Watch has put the death toll in the Syrian conflict at more than 4,000, while the United Nations has estimated that the number of civilians and army defectors killed exceeds 5,000. The Syrian government says more than 1,100 members of the security forces have been killed.

* Bloomberg News