According to an article in Der Spiegel newspaper on 15.11.2003, Siemens has been the construction source of a major wiretapping system for Turkmenistan's secret police. In his article journalist Kristian Nefi talks about how German companies have systematically played up to Niyazov's regime in the past, all in the hope of catching profitable business deals in the country. As the former president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, was diagnosed with a heart problem in 2003, Siemens was first to recommend their doctors to him. A well-known German cardiologist Hans Meisner was brought to Turkmenistan for Niyazov's aid, and a respected dentist Rudolf Ott was to take care of Niyazov's teeth. After all, Niyazov was Siemens's No.1 client.
The personality cult of president Niyazov became the target of international criticism. Human Rights Watch labelled this Central Asian country as one of the most suppressed countries in the world. OSCE and the Euro parliament demanded more democracy in Turkmenistan. Niyazov jailed everyone who opposed to him.
This however, didn't worry the Germans as they continued enjoying his attention. Deutche Bank has $3 billion of Niyazov's savings, and calls it "The President's Fund". This being money that has come from oil and drugs business.
Siemens has helped build power plants, cliniques, and a summer residence for Niyazov. It has also participated in the development of automation techniques for oil and gas factories, and has also helped with the modernisation of television broadcasting in the country. This is not all. Siemens has been creating the eavesdropping technique that enables the secret police to arrest dissidents and opposition members. It has also created a system that interferes, and disturbs Radio Free Europe Radio broadcasts. Siemens claim that they have nothing to do with this, but opposition members tell otherwise.
Sources from Turkmenistan support the allegations that are made in the Der Spiegel article. Negotiations as to deliver spying equipment to the Turkmen secret service have been done since the mid 1990's. A chairman of the national Security Council, Mr. Mohammed Nazarov initiated this. By 2001 the equipment was delivered and partly installed. With the equipment, the secret service was able to snatch faxes, monitor phone calls, and look for numbers automatically in a number database by using keywords of sentences. The most important monitoring subjects were foreign embassies, OSCE organisation, PROON, dissident's telephones, diplomat's home phones, foreign corporate representatives, and state's important officials.
The installation process was haltered when Nazarov was arrested in 2002, which started up the clean up of the National Security Council. Some of the spying equipment was stolen at the time. Representatives of the Siemens Corporation appeared in the country again in 2004. On top of monitoring phone calls and snatching faxes, equipment was delivered to the country that would also enable the monitoring of Internet use and email. Ukrainian and Chinese specialists ensured the security of this process, and Siemens enabled the installation. Ukrainians and Chinese did what comes to monitoring emails and Internet use. Wiretapping phone calls and snatching of faxes was enabled by Siemens equipment and codes. Today the whole system works in full force.
The whole Ashgabat network is in the grips of the Ministry of National Security. As phone calls and faxes are snatched, an auto saving system writes them down. A whole complex of radio monitoring was also installed, which was designed to catch radiophone calls. Satellite phone calls are also partly monitored. During the Niyazov assassination attempt, the components of this system was used to spy on conspiracy radio traffic, and contacts.
Have a look at the Der Spiegel article in Russian and in German:
Full text in Russian is here: http://www.gundogar.org/?021903516000000000000011000000
Full text in German is available at: