Citizen Lab research into FinSpy, a suite of surveillance software marketed exclusively to governments by the Gamma Group of Companies, has helped in the recent lawsuit put forth by an American citizen living in Maryland.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the plaintiff in this case, who has asked the court to allow him to use the pseudonym Mr. Kidane – which he uses within the Ethiopian community – in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of his family both in the United States and in Ethiopia.

Kidane is suing the Ethiopian government for infecting his computer with secret spyware, wiretapping his private Skype calls, and monitoring his entire family’s every use of the computer for a period of months.

A forensic examination of Kidane’s computer showed that the device had been infected when he opened a Microsoft Word document that contained hidden malware. The document had been an attachment to an email message sent by agents of the Ethiopian government and forwarded to Kidane. The spyware contained in the attachment was a program called FinSpy.

In the several months FinSpy was on Kidane’s computer, it recorded a vast array of activities conducted by users of the machine. Traces of the spyware inadvertently left on his computer show that information – including recordings of dozens of Skype phone calls – was surreptitiously sent to a secret control server located in Ethiopia and controlled by the Ethiopian government.

For more information, see here.