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Gov't considers request to repatriate Chinese hackers

21 January 2015, 20:40

Nairobi - The Kenyan government is considering a request by the Chinese government to repatriate 76 Chinese nationals arrested in Kenya for hacking, an official said Wednesday.

China made a formal request to extradite its nationals, the foreign affairs ministry's political and diplomatic secretary Ben Ogutu said on a live TV talk show.

During an official trip to Kenya earlier this month, China's Foreign Affairs minister Wang Yi asked for the extradition of 37 of the suspects, who have been charged in court. Yi made the remark while answering questions from journalists, saying the crimes were perpetrated against Chinese nationals in China and not Kenyans. Edwin Limo, a spokesman at Kenya's foreign affairs ministry, confirmed that the formal request was for all the Chinese suspects.

Activists have asked the government not to bow to China's pressure for extradition. The two countries have signed billion dollar contracts on trade and development of infrastructure in Kenya.

Limo said Kenya is a sovereign state and cannot be pressured to do anything.

Police arrested the 76 Chinese nationals and one Taiwanese early December with sophisticated equipment in houses in plush neighborhoods of Nairobi. Police said they were investigating them for espionage, among other crimes.

Police were alerted of the alleged hacking operation when computer equipment in one of the upscale houses the Chinese nationals had rented near the U.S. Embassy and U.N. headquarters caught fire, killing one person.

The more than 70 Chinese arrested in Nairobi very likely belong to a cross-border telecommunications fraud group, Mao Yizong, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Kenya said in a statement in December.

The statement said cross-border fraud groups are using communication equipment to call and cheat their targets within China. The statement said the groups defraud their victims by making them believe that they have committed financial offenses with their banks, insurance companies or other financial institution and extort money by disguising themselves as prosecutors or authorities.

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- AP


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