Jul 22, 2021 07:29 UTC
  • Reporters Without Borders urges Israel to stop exporting ‘dangerous’ spyware used to persecute dissidents

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has urged the Israeli regime to suspend exports of its “dangerous” spying technology that is used to persecute dissidents worldwide, after an international investigation found that 50,000 phone numbers were targeted using an Israeli spyware.

“Enabling governments to install spyware that is used in practice to monitor hundreds of journalists and their sources throughout the world poses a major democratic problem,” RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire said in a statement on the group’s website on Wednesday.

“Regardless of how effective it may be, it is inappropriate for Israel to continue promoting this flagship technology like any other business product. We call on Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to impose an immediate moratorium on surveillance technology exports until a protective regulatory framework has been established,” Deloire said.

The investigation, carried out by media outlets including The Guardian, Le Monde and The Washington Post found that Pegasus, a military-grade spyware licensed by Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, was used to hack into smartphones belonging to world leaders, journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Three sitting presidents, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Iraq’s Barham Salih and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa; three current prime ministers, Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Egypt’s Mostafa Madbouly and Morocco’s Saad-Eddine El Othmani; and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI were on the list of those targeted via Pegasus.

The investigation also revealed that Pegasus was sold to governments such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates  which have bad reputations for oppressing political dissidents.