Israeli spyware maker in spotlight amid reports of abuse
TEL AVIV, 19 July. - (ANA) - Data leaked to a consortium of news organizations suggests that several countries use Pegasus, a powerful cyberespionage tool, to spy on rights activists, dissidents and journalists, according to the New York Times.
The major Israeli cyber-surveillance company, NSO Group, came under heightened scrutiny Sunday after an international alliance of news outlets reported that governments used its software to target journalists, dissidents and opposition politicians.
The Israeli government also faced renewed international pressure for allowing the company to do business with authoritarian regimes that use the spyware for purposes that go far afield of the company’s stated aim: targeting terrorists and criminals.
NSO has attracted scrutiny since 2016, when the company’s software was said to be used against a rights activist in the United Arab Emirates and a journalist in Mexico. Since then, The New York Times has reported that the software was deployed against journalists, rights campaigners and policymakers in Mexico and Saudi Arabia. The new reports that appeared Sunday suggest that the firm’s software has been used against more people in more countries than had previously been reported.
Among other actions, the company is said to have sold a sophisticated surveillance application known as Pegasus that the journalism consortium said appears to have been used to attempt to hack at least 37 smartphones owned by journalists from several countries.
The allegations may escalate concerns that the Israeli government has abetted government abuses by granting NSO an export license to sell software to countries that use it to suppress dissent.
The accounts, published by The Washington Post and an alliance of 16 other international news outlets, follow recent reporting by The Times that Israel permitted NSO to do business with Saudi Arabia, and encouraged it to keep doing so even after the Saudi government was implicated in the 2018 assassination of a Saudi journalist and dissident, Jamal Khashoggi.
The Israeli prime minister’s office declined to comment, and the Israeli Defense Ministry said it had not been given enough time to respond to a request for comment. -(ANA) -
AB/ANA/19 July 2021 - - -