By Elvis Muraranganda
A series of high-tech spy equipment placed around Namibia by a US government agency could have been clandestinely used to gather intelligence and sensitive information as well as spy on Namibians and the region.
The five machines were strategically placed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) without knowledge and permission of the Namibian authorities causing fear that international terrorists groups could target the country.
According to NASA’s website the research equipment could include scanners, trackers, radiometers and imagers.
Last year, NASA entered into an agreement with the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) to conduct research on Namibian clouds
while making use of the learning institution’s graduates as understudies. Despite the risk involved, the research commenced on August 20 2016 without security vetting for one month. It also included flights into the smoke and clouds at Walvis Bay for every day of that month.
In February, the NASA team returned for a second round of research and its physical research scientist Jens Redemann bragged about how the American agency had spent N$10 million locally so far.
In a memo of a high-level technical committee meeting convened to dissected the NUST-NASA agreement late last year, it was discovered that the equipment was to remain at the places where they were install until 2018.
“This equipment forms part of the global network and is also located in neighbouring countries, such as Angola and South Africa,” a NASA expert informed the meeting before adding: “That similar arrangements are set to be entered into with Botswana and South African institutions of higher learning. “After presentation, concerns were raised as to whether this equipment poses a security risk of not to the country. The meeting agreed that such equipment was supposed to undergo security examination prior to its entry and installation in the country,” the memo reads.
The record has it that some members of the meeting pointed to the fact that the agreement between NUST and NASA contained no specific reference to benefits.
Furthermore, it was noted that NUST is not authorised to tax exemption or to be responsible for activities of institutions that are not party to their agreement. Also, it became known to the meeting that NASA was applying US laws when it entered into the agreement with NUST.
“It was also noted that the process lacked proper shareholders’ consultations. To that end, this necessitated the need to review and engage relevant (State) institutions for a new and revised agreement.”
These include the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation as well as the office of the Attorney General.
The meeting also requested that NUST provided a list of all equipment used in the NASA projects including details and locations of these machines.
“NUST is requested to provide a justification for the continued use of the equipment installed in Namibia, while the parties are in the process of re-negotiation the agreement.”
Questions sent to the US Embassy in Namibia’s spokesperson Eric Atkins, International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and Namibia Central Intelligence Service boss Philemon Malima were not responded to at the time of going to print.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015