Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) products used for a Syrian surveillance system were sold by a partner firm that didn’t know where the gear was being shipped, the computer maker told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a recent letter.
Hewlett-Packard equipment worth more than $500,000 was installed in computer rooms in Syria, underpinning a surveillance system being built to track citizens’ e-mails and Internet use, Bloomberg News reported in November 2011. The Italian company running the project, Area SpA, bought the equipment through resellers in Italy, according to the report. Area has since pulled the plug on the project.
“Area did not procure the HP products believed to have been sold into Syria from HP but instead procured those products from an HP partner that was not informed of the ultimate destination for those products,” Hewlett-Packard said in an Oct. 9 letter to the SEC made public in a filing with the commission.
Area said in November 2011 that it never had any relations with Syrian intelligence agencies and that the company’s dealing complied with all export rules.
Hewlett-Packard wrote to the SEC after the regulator contacted the Palo Alto, California-based company Sept. 6 requesting comment on news reports about the equipment.
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