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HP denies Syria, Iran spy tech claims

"Our hands are clean, but our distros' may not be"

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HP has been forced to deny that it broke strict export sanctions by selling technology to Syria and Iran, but admitted that its network of channel partners may have done so without its knowledge.

The tech behemoth, which was recently overtaken by Chinese rival Lenovo as the world’s top PC seller, was asked by the US Securities and Exchange Commission last month about reports from 2011 that its equipment was installed by Italian firm Area SpA as part of a nationwide surveillance system.

In a letter dated 9 October and seen by Reuters for the first time last Friday, HP said it didn’t authorise the sale of any products to Syria, and that Area SpA had probably obtained the tech from a partner which wasn’t aware where they’d end up. HP’s contract with the Italian firm ended in April.

The US PC-maker claimed that it halted sales of kit to channel partners with customers in Iran back in 2009, but covered its back by adding that “it is always possible that products may be diverted to Iran or Syria after being sold to channel partners, such as distributors and resellers”, Reuters said.

However, HP said it will continue to work with ZTE, despite an FBI investigation into media allegations that the Chinese firm sold a 900-page ‘packing list’ worth of US-made products including HP kit, to Iran.

Cisco, which was also on that list, has ended its relationship with the Shenzhen-based telecoms kit maker.

HP apparently said in the letter that it had conducted an investigation into the incident.

The firm couldn't immediately be reached for further comment. ®

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