Israeli spyware used to hack cell phones of journalists, government officials and human rights activists around the world

Photo: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

Israeli spyware was used to hack 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials, and human rights activists around the world.

According to an investigation by 17 media organizations around the world, the spyware Pegasus spyware licensed by Israel-based NSO Group also was used to target phones belonging to two women close to Jamal Khashoggi, a Post columnist murdered at a Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018, before and after his death

The Guardian said the investigation suggested "widespread and continuing abuse" of NSO's hacking software, described as malware that infects smartphones to enable the extraction of messages, photos and emails; record calls; and secretly activate microphones.

NSP said that its spyware was only intended to use by the government intelligence and law enforcement agencies fighting crimes like terrorism.

The company issued a statement defying the investigation led by France based nonprofit firm, Forbidden stories.

"The report by Forbidden Stories is full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability and interests of the sources. It seems like the 'unidentified sources' have supplied information that has no factual basis and are far from reality," the company said in the statement.

"After checking their claims, we firmly deny the false allegations made in their report," the statement said

In a statement, rights group Amnesty International decried what it termed "the wholesale lack of regulation" of surveillance software.

"Until this company (NSO) and the industry as a whole can show it is capable of respecting human rights, there must be an immediate moratorium on the export, sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology," the rights group said in a statement.

Publish : 2021-07-19 11:08:00

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