Pegasus row International

Israel probes Pegasus’ use to snoop on citizens

Israel’s Justice Minister on Wednesday pledged a full investigation into allegations that the controversial Pegasus spyware was used on Israeli citizens, including people who led protests against former premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

Pegasus, a surveillance product made by the Israeli firm NSO that can turn a mobile phone into a pocket spying device, has remained a source of global controversy following revelations last year it was used to spy on journalists, activists and dissidents worldwide.

According to the business daily Calcalist , Pegasus was also used by police on citizens at the forefront of protests against Mr. Netanyahu last year, when he was still Prime Minister, as well as other Israelis.

Israeli police have firmly denied the report.

Public Security Minister Omar Barlev, a Netanyahu critic who took office as part of a new government that ousted him in June, offered a more nuanced defence.

Judge’s approval

There was “no practice of wire-tapping or hacking devices by police without a judge’s approval”, Mr. Barlev said.

Israeli security forces have wide leeway to conduct surveillance within Israel with judicial approval.

But Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, an expert at the Israel Democracy Institute think-tank, said “you can’t really ask for a court order authorising Pegasus” because Israeli law does not currently permit such invasive surveillance of its citizens.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 7:15:26 pm |