77 Chinese Nationals Arrested in Kenya

Friday, December 12, 2014 @ 01:12 PM gHale

Police in Kenya arrested 77 Chinese nationals thought to be running a cybercrime center in Nairobi, the country’s capital.

The arrests, 37 of which occurred at the end of November and early December, came as a result of a fire at a home in Nairobi where one person died.

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Police investigating the cause of the fire attributed it to a faulty server and a number of raids then took place on upmarket houses rented by the Chinese nationals. During these raids they found vast amounts of high-tech equipment including telephone headsets, computers linked to high-speed internet and monitors.

Police said they thought this group was “preparing to raid the country’s communication systems”.

“Preliminary findings show the fire was caused by one of the servers they were illegally operating,” said director of Kenya’s Criminal Investigations Department, Ndegwa Muhoro in a published report in Kenya’s privately owned Standard newspaper.

While they face charges of being in the country illegally and operating radio equipment without the necessary permits, local police have said they are investigating the group for manufacturing ATM cards, and also laundering money and Internet fraud.

There are also looking at potential espionage charges.

“We have roped in experts to tell us if they were committing crimes of espionage,” Ndegwa Muhoro said. “These people seem to have been brought here specifically for a mission which we are investigating.”

China is a major investor in Kenya’s infrastructure and communications networks and according to the Standard newspaper, China’s ambassador to Kenya ended up asked to “explain if his government was aware of the group’s activities.”

Following calls from Kenya’s foreign minister Amina Mohamed for China to cooperate on the matter, the Chinese embassy in Nairobi released a statement saying initial investigations suggest the Chinese nationals engaged in a “telecommunication fraud case.”

“China and Kenya enjoy long-standing friendship, and the Chinese side resolutely supports the Kenyan side in combating all forms of illegal and criminal activities,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry in a statement.

“We will actively cooperate with the Kenyan side to carry out investigation and handle the case in accordance with law. Meanwhile, we also hope that the Kenyan side can safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens being involved and properly deal with this case in a law-abiding and just way,” Chunying said in the statement.

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