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Blind activist Chen given spyware-laden iPad and iPhone

Malware claim denied by ChinaAid

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An NYU professor is claiming that blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen, who staged a dramatic escape from house arrest and fled to the US, was given an iPad and iPhone loaded with spyware on his arrival at New York University last year.

The self-trained lawyer was imprisoned and then held under house arrest for years after angering the Communist Party by defending local residents in Shandong from various abuses in its infamous one child policy. In a daring night-time escape last April he fled to the US Embassy and eventually ended up in New York University, where he was given a fellowship and the use of a Greenwich Village apartment.

His mentor, NYU professor mentor Jerome Cohen has now told Reuters that fanboi gadgets brought as gifts to help the activist communicate with his family back in China were deliberately pre-loaded with malware to spy on him.

Screening the devices just days after they had been received, NYU technicians found spyware which could allow a third party to track the location of the device and additional password-protected software apparently backing up stolen info to a remote server.

“These people supposedly were out to help him and they give him a kind of Trojan horse that would have enabled them to monitor his communications secretly,” Cohen told the newswire.

“It's perfectly consistent with their desire to manipulate and control the situation and know whatever confidential advice he is getting.”

The person who gave Chen the smart devices was Heidi Cai, the wife of activist and ChinaAid founder Bob Fu.

Fu has called the claims “ridiculous” and said that his technician only added a Skype account to the fondleslab after activating both devices.

"Everything was transparent. There was nothing hidden," he told Reuters.

A second, anonymous source, told the newswire that at least three other devices given to Chen by other people also contained suspicious software.

The allegations come at a difficult time for Chen and his supporters after NYU announced that he would be leaving the university after just a year.

Although the university claims his fellowship was only ever meant to last one year, the blind dissident has publically slammed the uni, arguing that it has bowed to “unrelenting” pressure from China as it looks to finalise a lucrative Shanghai campus there. ®

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