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AP links security scanners used in Europe to Chinese authorities

Passengers prepare to place items through Nuctech security scanners at the Brussels Eurostar train terminal on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022. At some of the world’s most sensitive spots, authorities have installed security screening devices made by a single Chinese company with deep ties to China’s military and the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party. Nuctech dismisses those concerns, countering that its European operations comply with local laws, including strict security checks and data privacy rules. (AP Photo/Erika Kinetz)

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Brussels-based investigative reporter Erika Kinetz reported exclusively on how Nuctech, a Chinese company with links to the military and government, has made major inroads in the market for security scanners in Europe. That raises concerns that China could exploit the equipment to sabotage key transit points or get illicit access to data.

Because there is so little transparency about where Nuctech equipment has been purchased — and the company refused to confirm or deny information about its customers — the story required a lot of legwork. Kinetz received leaked internal communications from a competitor of Nuctech and scoured public procurement databases — which don’t provide comprehensive information — as well as parliamentary testimony in multiple languages for clues about where the equipment had been sold.

AP reporters across Europe reached out to airport and customs authorities and dug into national databases to try to get a record of Nuctech purchases. Kinetz also received exclusive analysis about Nuctech’s ownership structure from a Dutch data company. The story generated interest in Europe, and member of the European Parliament reached out for more detail on AP’s reporting about how European Union funds contributed to Nuctech bids.

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