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NSO Group Pegasus Used to Spy on Israeli Mayors

NSO Group is under fire worldwide because of Pegasus.

NSO Group

Israel’s NSO Group Pegasus spyware was used to spy on a number of Israeli mayors, reports Calcalist. The Israeli publication, which first revealed the use by Israeli police of the Pegasus software to hack into Israelis’ phones is now reporting on how it was used to monitor mayors.

Relatives and friends of Israeli mayors were also spied on using the NSO Group’s Pegasus software, says Calcalist. While not naming them, Calcalist says that at least three mayors and heads of local councils suspected of corruption were monitored by police in Israel using the Pegasus spyware. But no charges were ever filed against them.

Last week, Israel’s Police was accused of using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to track the movements of Israeli citizens. Israeli financial news publication Calcalist reported that the police uses NSO’s Pegasus spyware to remotely hack phones of Israeli citizens. Pegasus is also used, Calcalist says, to track the phone owners and to extract information from their mobile devices.

Specifically, it is alleged that NSO Group’s Pegasus was used to track people who protested at rallies against former Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu when he was still in office as well as a local mayor who was investigated over bribery charges. The reports further alleged that this surveillance and possible hacking was done without the required court authorization.

As in America, a judge must grant permission to the police in Israel before they can listen to people’s private telephone conversations or hack into their devices in any way.

Israel Cybersecurity firm NSO Group develops ways to break through encryptions and security systems. Last July, it was revealed that NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware software aids in the violation of people’s human rights around the world and that the company has known all about this. Specifically, they were charged with helping governments hack the telephones of journalists.

NSO Group was eventually blacklisted by the U.S. government in November. And in December it was reported that NSO Group Pegasus spyware was used to track American embassy employees in East Africa. Specifically, 11 U.S. Embassy employees working in Uganda had their iPhones hacked by the program.

In response to the NSO Group Pegasus allegations, the Israel Police release a statement denying the rumors.

“Following the publications in which the Israeli police allegedly use spyware (NSO Pegasus), as published this morning in Calcalist, we would like to put things into perspective: There is no basis for the allegations in the article. All activity of the Israel Police in this area is by law, on the basis of court orders and strict work procedures.”

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