Saudis Accused of Using Spy Software from Israeli Company to Track and Spy on Murdered Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi

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Several weeks ago, Edward Snowden revealed that the NSO Group, an Israeli company, created ‘Pegasus’ surveillance software that covertly allows all cell-phone communications to be monitored, including texts, emails, and calls. It also can hijack a mobile phone’s microphone and camera to turn it into a surveillance device. He says it was used by the Saudis to track murdered journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.  A Saudi dissident who was friends with Khashoggi believes that his phone was infected with Pegasus and is suing the NSO Group. He accuses NSO of providing the Saudi government with the surveillance software to spy on him and his friends as they planned to set up an online movement of Saudi youth that would fight the Saudi regime’s propaganda on social networks.  The NSO Group was founded by former members of Unit 8200, a branch of the Israeli army that specializes in cyber-surveillance technology. -GEG

Israel has always prided itself on being, as the Book of Isaiah says, “a light unto the nations” — an exemplar of “righteousness” to inspire Jews and gentiles alike and bring salvation to mankind. That is why the menorah is the symbol not only of Hanukkah, which Jews are now celebrating, but also of the state of Israel. But Israel’s light is dimmed when veterans of its famed armed forces, whose mission is to defend the Jewish state’s freedom, misuse their expertise to aid oppression in other countries.

Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, who lives in Canada, has filed a lawsuit against an Israeli technology company called the NSO Group accusing it of providing the Saudi government with the surveillance software to spy on him and his friends — including Jamal Khashoggi. The program, known as Pegasus, not only allows the monitoring of all communications from a phone — all texts, all emails, all phone calls — but can also hijack a mobile phone’s microphone and camera to turn it into a surveillance device.

The information gathered on Khashoggi may have motivated his murder by alerting the Saudi authorities that he was stirring up electronic dissent within the kingdom, while denouncing Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in vituperative terms as a “pac-man” who devoured all in his path. “The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” Abdulaziz told CNN. “The guilt is killing me.”

Firms like the NSO Group have been started by veterans of Unit 8200, Israel’s version of the National Security Agency. A 2016 report by a watchdog group called Privacy International identified 27 Israeli companies in the business of surveillance, the highest number per capita in the world. But the NSO Group has created the most controversy amid charges that its products have been misused against civil society activists around the world.

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3 years ago

Guess what! this article is wrong. The “Israeli” company is actually owned by a San Francisco-based private equity fund, and has been since 2013.
Edward will never miss an opportunity to bash a Joow.

Fact Checker
Fact Checker
3 years ago

NSO Group does not have a website but LinkedIn page says location in Herzelia, Israel. The company was created in Israel by Israelis. One of the founders is Shalev Hulio, who is also the CEO. Wikipedia lists the current owners as Francisco Partners (70%), Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio. The NY Times says that the Israeli government licenses NSO Group’s sales of Pegasus spyware to foreign governments.