Israel police used spyware on Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, aides: Report

In recent days, Israeli media have reported that spyware was used against a key witness in Mr. Netanyahu’s corruption trial.

February 07, 2022 02:43 pm | Updated 02:44 pm IST - Jerusalem:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with his son Yair n Tel Aviv, Israel. File photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) with his son Yair n Tel Aviv, Israel. File photo

Israeli police allegedly used spyware on the phones of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s son and members of his inner circle, an Israeli newspaper reported on February 7.

Calcalist has published a series of recent reports alleging that police used sophisticated spyware to target protesters and other Israeli citizens, prompting condemnation and calls for investigations from across the political spectrum.

In recent days, Israeli media have reported that spyware was used against a key witness in Mr. Netanyahu’s corruption trial . Calcalist says it was also used against his son, Avner, two communications advisors and the wife of another defendant in the case.

They are among several prominent figures to have been targeted with spyware, including business leaders, former directors of Cabinet Ministries, Mayors and protest organisers, Calcalist reported.

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Mr. Netanyahu is in the midst of a lengthy corruption trial over charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate cases. His historic 12-year rule came to an end last June when a narrow coalition government was sworn in after four hard-fought elections in less than two years.

Mr. Netanyahu has long accused law enforcement of unfairly targeting him, and his lawyers have demanded answers. Even Mr. Netanyahu’s political opponents have expressed outrage.

The witness whose phone was reportedly hacked, Shlomo Filber, is expected to testify in the coming days and Mr. Netanyahu’s lawyers are expected to request a delay to his testimony. It remains unclear whether any of the evidence allegedly gathered was used against Mr. Netanyahu.

Police did not respond to a request for comment on the latest report. State prosecutors have told Mr. Netanyahu’s lawyers that they are “thoroughly examining” the reports, according to internal communications seen by The Associated Press .

Authorities have not said which spyware might have been improperly used. Calcalist has said at least some of the cases involved the Israeli hacker-for-hire company NSO Group. Its flagship product, Pegasus, allows operators to seamlessly infiltrate a target’s mobile phone and gain access to the device’s contents, including real-time communications.

NSO has faced mounting scrutiny over Pegasus, which has been linked to snooping on human rights activists, journalists and politicians across the globe.

NSO, which does not disclose its clients, says all of its sales are approved by Israel’s Defence Ministry and that its technology is used by governments to combat crime and terrorism.

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