A week after Israel established a commission to review charges that the NSO Group’s Pegasus phone surveillance software had been misused, Israeli authorities have inspected the offices of the NSO Group.
The visits by members of the Defence Ministry took place even as Defence Minister Benny Gantz arrived in France where he was to discuss to Pegasus Project revelations with his French counterpart.
Among the phone numbers that were reportedly spied on using the software was that of French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron’s number was among others in a database of 50,000 phone numbers that included contacts of journalists, activists, politicians, lawyers, judges, businesspersons and others. All the numbers are believed to be candidates for possible surveillance by NSO Group.
The NSO Group, which is based in Herzliya, says its software is sold only to governments and intelligence agencies with the purpose of hacking the cell phones of terrorists, drug rings members or paedophiles. However, Amnesty International and other human rights groups accuse it of selling software to authoritarian regimes that use it to stifle dissent.
An NSO spokesperson told Israeli news website The Record that “representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Defence had visited their offices”.
“We welcome their inspection,” the NSO Group said.
“The company is working in full transparency with the Israeli authorities. We are confident that this inspection will prove the facts are as declared repeatedly by the company against the false allegations made against us in the recent media attacks.”
Domestic critics of the NSO Group call for its export license to be revoked. However, an Israeli court rjected a case calling for the same in 2020.