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Palestinian freedom fighters kidnapped by Israeli company NSO Group: Report | Story


Spy software from an Israeli intelligence company was found on the phones of six Palestinian freedom fighters, according to the report.

Spy programs from the Israeli intelligence agency NSO Group were found on the phones of six Palestinian civil rights activists, the first time it was reported that Palestinian freedom fighters were being monitored by the military. Pegasus spyware.

The non-profit group Frontline Defenders disclosed their findings Monday in a technical report along with Amnesty International and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which confirmed the election.

It is not known who set up the NSO spy software, which gives loggers access to everything they store and do on their mobile phone, including real-time communication.

Three of the abducted Palestinians work in gangs. The others do not want to, and want to remain anonymous, Frontline Defenders says.

Among those abducted were Ubai Aboudi, a 37-year-old economist and a US citizen who runs the Bisan Center for Research and Development in Ramallah, in the West Bank that was seized. The group is one of six victims terrorists and Israel last month.

The Irish-based Frontline Defenders see Israel as a major skeptic. The first two interventions came shortly after Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that six Palestinian groups were “terrorists”.

Aboudi said he lost “any security” due to the “disturbing” phone that was on his side day and night and contained pictures of his three children. He said his wife, for the first three nights after hearing about the hack, “did not sleep with the idea of ​​infringing too much on our privacy”.

She was deeply concerned that her listeners knew how to communicate with foreign ambassadors. A forensic analysis of Aboudi’s phone found that it had been seized by Pegasus in February.

Two other abducted Palestinians who have agreed to be named are investigator Ghassan Halaika, an Al-Haq activist, and lawyer Salah Hammouri from Addameer.

Israel has provided little public evidence to support the term “terrorism”, which Palestinian groups say they want to restrain their money from and oppose Israel’s military rule.

Andrew Anderson, chief executive of Frontline Defenders, said the NSO could not be trusted to ensure that its spy software was not misused by its customers and that Israel should face international insults if it did not bring the company to its heels.

“If the Israeli government refuses to take action then this should have a detrimental effect on trade relations with Israel,” he told the Associated Press via email.

Mohammed al-Maskati, an investigator who found the hacks, said he was first notified on October 16 by Halaika, whose phone was found to have been stolen in July 2020.

Asked about allegations that his programs were being used against Palestinian freedom fighters, the NSO Group said in a statement to the AP that it was only selling to government agencies for use in the fight against “serious crime and terrorism”. It also said that it was not clear who the government had chosen to rob them.

The company has previously stated that the exported Pegasus brand could not be used to crack Israeli phone numbers, but the report found that four of the six stolen phones have been using SIM cards provided by Israeli telecom companies. It also said that its software could not be used to track US numbers.

The NSO group sparked outrage from civil society groups earlier this year research and international media outlets have uncovered Pegasus’ spy software used by security forces and governments in several countries, Israel is burning it over its digital surveillance function.

The regime of US President Joe Biden last week disrupted the NSO team and Israel’s lesser competitor, Candiru, in developing and providing spy software to foreign governments “that have misused these weapons”.

The technology has been used against journalists, freedom fighters and anti-political activists from Mexico to Saudi Arabia since 2015, according to organizations reporting the atrocities.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense has approved the export of spyware programs developed by the NSO Group and other special Israeli companies that recruit soldiers from the country’s top military. Critics say the process is transparent.


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