Lawyers among those arrested in crackdown organised crime
Wednesday, 10 March 2021
At least two lawyers were among those arrested in Tuesday’s landmark operation against organised crime following the cracking of the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC, which was popular with Belgian criminals.
A 30-year-old lawyer and a 28-year-old lawyer who was still a trainee, both in Antwerp, are suspected of participating in a criminal organisation.
Both lawyers have defended clients in drug-related cases in the past, including ones of some notoriety, and both are alleged to have been supplying encrypted phones to the criminal underworld.
The phones, bought for thousands of dollars from Canadian company Sky ECC, are equipped with their special encrypted messaging service. Texts sent with the phones were automatically deleted after thirty seconds, and if a user entered a “panic” password, the contents of the device were immediately erased.
One of the lawyers admitted to using an encrypted phone but maintained that there was nothing wrong with that, saying he used it to keep in touch with clients who preferred not to communicate by traditional means, according to De Standaard.
With cameras, microphones, and GPS disabled, the phones were essentially impossible to track, and the messages supposedly impossible to crack. Now Belgian authorities claim to have done exactly that.
Tuesday’s large-scale police operation that followed the cracking led to 48 arrests and the seizure of 17 tons of cocaine, eight luxury cars, three cash machines, police uniforms, and €1.2 million in cash along with various firearms.