Israeli authorities make a simple “visit” to the creator of spyware Pegasus

The Israeli government says it takes Project Pegasus’ revelations seriously. But to prove it, he has so far only “visited” the NSO offices.

Any consequences for NSO Group, the company behind the Pegasus spyware? AFP reports that Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed to Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly that ” official representatives visited the NSO offices on Wednesday ” and ” Israel took the allegations seriously. The Israeli Defense Ministry’s Twitter account also made a public announcement similar [traduite de l’hébreu au français par un outil automatique, ndlr] : ” representatives from a number of organizations have come to NSO today to review the publications and allegations raised in his case.

These July 28 statements follow the publication of the “Project Pegasus” investigation ten days earlier by more than 16 media brought together by Forbidden Stories and NGO Amnesty. From an exclusive list of more than 50,000 potential spyware targets, investigators have collected new evidence of the misuse of Pegasus, which had already been known for similar scandals in recent years.

Pegasus, the most famous spyware. // Source: Hercules, available on Disney +.

Faced with the accusations, NSO Group defends as always that its spyware would be used only for purposes of fight against terrorism and against the criminals, and it continues to put forward its supposed safeguards. His communication tries to take advantage of the doubts surrounding the list at the center of the investigation (the origin of which is not specified), but it fails by its inconsistencies. For example, NSO claims on the one hand that Emmanuel Macron was not targeted by Pegasus, and on the other, claims that he does not know the targets of his clients. Two postulates which cannot be true at the same time.

No search, but a “visit”

Asked about the ” visit From the ministry by The Record Media, an NSO spokesperson confirmed the facts and again played the virtue card: ” We welcome this inspection (…) The company works in full transparency with the Israeli authorities. We are confident that this inspection will prove that the facts are as repeatedly stated by the company against the false allegations made against us during the recent media attacks.. “

The two parties did not give more information on the details of their exchanges or on the nature of the passage of the authorities. But it’s good with a simple ” visit That it is, and not a search or a complete audit, which questions the willingness of the Israeli government to intervene in the case. However, he has a key role to play there.

Israeli justice denied charges against NSO in 2020

To export its offensive software to Western democracies, NSO needs to register with the Israeli regulator in order to obtain an export license. This authorization is subject to a set of rules, which are supposed to protect against the misuse of tools like Pegasus. The government’s failure to initiate a proper investigation suggests that it believes NSO has stuck with the law. Le Monde, participating in the Pegasus Project, denounces the ” guilty laissez-faire Of the State of Israel.

The country excels in the defense industry thanks to advanced partnerships between governments, universities, and the private sector. NSO is one of the flagships of its industry, and acknowledging the abuses would inevitably affect the industry. But anyway, previous attempts to stop Pegasus’ outbursts had led to failures. As The Record Media recalls, in 2019, human rights groups gathered evidence of NSO’s abuses in the hope of having its export license revoked by the government. But Israeli justice rejected the request in July 2020.

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