Dictator Alert is a Twitter bot that tracks planes registered to authoritarian regimes landing and leaving Geneva Airport. The results are posted on Twitter and Facebook.

Do you have informations about dictators and their activities in Geneva? Contact us!

Please consider making a donation.

The project is run by Julien Pilet (@JulienPilet) and François Pilet (@FrancoisPilet).

François is a freelance investigative journalist based in Switzerland and co-founder of the news agency vesper.media. Julien is a computer engineer and co-founder of anemomind.com and opticode.ch. The two are cousins, since you asked.

How it works

The bot relies on a private ADS-B antenna located near the Geneva airport. The antenna is recording every landings and takeoffs along with the aircrafts registrations. A script is run once per hour to compare the logs from the antenna with a list of aircrafts registered to or regularly used by authoritarian regimes. When a match is found, a message is published on Twitter.

The list

The list of tracked planes is based on public sources and official registers.You can download the current list of tracked planes as an Excel file.

If want to add new registrations or if you think that there is an error in the list, please contact francois@vesper.media.

Who’s a dictator?

GVA Dictator Alert is tracking planes registered to or used by governments described as “authoritarian regimes” according to the Democracy Index (2016) compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Due to the slow erosion of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and processes, we decided to add the country to the list (as of august 2017). If you have informations about aircrafts used by Venezuela’s government, the national oil company PDVSA or private jet used by politically exposed persons, please contact us.

To read more about the Democracy Index, consult: Democracy Index – Wikipedia.

Citations & reactions

On November 3, 2016, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, chief of the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) Criminal Division, mentioned GVA Dictator Alert during a conference about international corruption at The George Washington University (YouTube). Leslie Caldwell indicated that the tool was monitored by the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

During the summer 2016, relying in part on information provided by GVA Dictator Alert, Geneva public prosecutors opened a formal investigation on Equatorial Guinea Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, aka Teodorin Obiang, for suspected money laundering of corruption proceeds. On November 31, 2016, the Geneva prosecutors seized 11 luxury cars owned by Teodorin Obiang at Geneva airport.