Israel blocked the sale of Pegasus spyware to Ukraine and Estonia

The Israeli government has long viewed Pegasus as an essential tool for its foreign policy. A New York Times magazine item this year re...


The Israeli government has long viewed Pegasus as an essential tool for its foreign policy. A New York Times magazine item this year revealed how, for more than a decade, Israel has made strategic decisions about which countries it allows to obtain licenses for Pegasus and which countries to deny them.

The Israeli government has authorized the purchase of Pegasus by authoritarian governments, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have used the weapon to spy on dissidents, human rights activists and journalists in these country. Democratically elected leaders in India, Hungary, Mexico, Panama, and other countries have also abused Pegasus to spy on their political opponents.

Israel used this tool as a bargaining chip in diplomatic negotiations, notably in the secret talks that led to the so-called Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and many of its historic Arab adversaries.

“Political decisions regarding export controls take into account security and strategic considerations, which include compliance with international agreements,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement in response to questions from The Times. “As a matter of principle, the State of Israel approves the export of cyber products exclusively to government entities, for lawful use, and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counterterrorism, under end-use/end-user statements provided by government procurement.

Since NSO first sold Pegasus to the Mexican government over a decade ago, the spyware has been used by dozens of countries to track down criminals, terrorists and drug traffickers. But the abuse of the tool has also been extended, from Saudi Arabia’s use of Pegasus in a brutal crackdown on dissent inside the kingdom, to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban authorizing its services. intelligence and law enforcement to deploy the spyware against its political adversaries.

Last November, the Biden administration put NSO and another Israeli cyber company on a “black list” of companies who are not allowed to do business with American companies. The Commerce Department said the companies’ tools “have enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists, and activists outside their sovereign borders to silence dissent. “.

Ronen Bergman reported from Kyiv and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Israel blocked the sale of Pegasus spyware to Ukraine and Estonia
Israel blocked the sale of Pegasus spyware to Ukraine and Estonia
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