WA tech company denies aiding Burmese military

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WA tech company denies aiding Burmese military

Radio encryption technology under fire.

Perth company Barrett Communications has denied involvement in supplying the Burmese military with advanced radio encryption technology.

Managing director Phil Bradshaw told iTnews that while Barrett was selling its 2050 model high-frequency radio sets to the Burmese Government, it was not selling to the military.

In addition, he claimed the radios did not include the type of encryption that is allegedly being used by the Burmese military to mask their radio communications.

He also claimed the encryption technology could "only be fitted in the factory" where the radios were assembled.

"They don't use frequency hopping unless they are fitted with the option," Bradshaw said.

"And the option can only be fitted if the Department of Defence issues an individual export license which we apply for very often on a case-by-case basis."

No permits to supply defence goods listed on the "Defence and Strategic Goods List" to an end user in Burma would be granted, according to an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman.

The denial came after the Greens Party called on the Federal Government to "immediately freeze the supply of Australian radio encryption technology to the Burmese military."

"Foreign Minister Stephen Smith must explain why military-grade communications equipment isn't caught up in our arms embargo? All shipments of this equipment must be frozen while our sanctions regime is reviewed," a spokesman for the party said.

"I find it unconscionable that we should allow Australian companies to aid and abet this regime's repressive crackdown ahead of the sham 2010 election."

The Greens were responding to reports from an Australian National University professor who believed Barrett Communications was exporting its radio encryption equipment to the Burmese military.

Professor Desmond Ball told iTnews he had been working in detection stations and studying Burmese military communications for "more than ten years".

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