China on Friday promised its full cooperation with Kenya following the arrest of 77 of its nationals alleged to have operated a cyber crime network in the capital Nairobi.
A statement from the Chinese embassy in Nairobi said initial investigations pointed to a “telecommunication fraud case”, an apparent response to Kenyan concerns that those detained may be Chinese spies.
“China and Kenya enjoy long-standing friendship, and the Chinese side resolutely supports the Kenyan side in combating all forms of illegal and criminal activities,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in the statement.
“We will actively cooperate with the Kenyan side to carry out investigation and handle the case in accordance with law. Meanwhile, we also hope that the Kenyan side can safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens being involved and properly deal with this case in a law-abiding and just way,” it added.
Kenyan officials revealed this week they were holding 77 Chinese nationals accused of running a hacking operation and mysterious “command centre” from upmarket houses in the capital.
Kenya`s foreign ministry has also summoned China`s top diplomat in Nairobi to seek reassurances that Beijing — a close ally and major investor in east Africa`s largest economy — was not in anyway linked to the affair.
According to local police, the gang had been “preparing to raid the country`s communication systems”, and reports said a series of police raids had turned up equipment capable of infiltrating bank accounts, Kenya`s M-Pesa mobile banking system and ATM machines.
The raids on the properties were sparked after police began investigating a house fire apparently caused by a computer that left one Chinese national dead, and that they found the Chinese living in “military-style dormitories”.
The homes were reportedly located in the upmarket northern Nairobi suburb of Runda, which is located next to the diplomatic area of Gigiri, home to the United Nations` headquarters and US embassy.