Israel Sets Up Team to Look Into 'Pegasus' Allegations: Report
The inter-ministerial team is headed by Israel’s National Security Council, reported Reuters, citing its source.
Israel has formulated a senior inter-ministerial team to look into allegations that the Israeli spyware - NSO Group’s Pegasus software - has been abused globally, reported news agency Reuters, citing an Israeli source.
“The objective is to find out what happened, to look into this issue and learn lessons,” the unnamed source told Reuters.
The inter-ministerial team is headed by Israel’s National Security Council, reported Reuters, citing its source. The event, however, is beyond the Israeli defence ministry’s purview.
Reuters’ source also informed that an 'export review' in the matter, however, was unlikely.
The source has also been quoted as saying that it is 'doubtful' that new curbs would be placed on Pegasus reports.
MORE ABOUT THE INTER-MINISTERIAL TEAM
Reuters’ source also referred to potential diplomatic reaction over prominent reports of suspected abuses globally.
Prior to this, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said French President Emmanuel Macron had called for probes to be carried out into the spyware case.
THE PEGASUS REPORTS
A report published by news organisations across the world on Sunday, 18 July, revealed that Israel-made spyware Pegasus was believed to have been used to snoop on at least 300 Indian phone numbers, including those of several journalists, politicians, government officials and rights activists. The list includes 14 world leaders, out of which at least seven are still in power:
French President Emmanuel Macron: According to The Wire, Macron’s name appeared in the list as he embarked on a trip to Africa in 2019 with stops in Dijbouti and Ethiopia.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa: According to a report by The Guardian, President Ramaphosa's number was found in a batch of numbers listed in 2019.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan: According to The Wire, Khan is the only foreign leader who has two listed phone numbers in the leaked database and his number was added by an unidentified agency in mid-2019 in a batch of Indian telephone numbers for the period of 2017-2019.
Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani and Moroccan King Mohammed VI: According to The Wire, the phone numbers of Morocco’s King and PM were discovered in a small subset of phone numbers, which was allegedly selected by Moroccan security forces.
Iraqi President Barham Salih: According to The Wire, PM Barham Salih's phone number was inserted into the leaked database in 2018 and 2019 in two subsets consisting of UAE and Saudi numbers.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly
Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri
Former Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda
Former Algerian Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui
Former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel
NSO REJECTS CLAIMS
The NSO has, as per Reuters, rejected reports by media partners, claiming that it was 'full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories'.
Further it has claimed that the software is used only by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime, which, as per what Defence Minister Benny Gantz said in a speech on Tuesday, are the kind of purposes which guide Israel’s export policy as well.
However, the Defence Minister also said that they are 'currently studying the information published on the matter'.
(With inputs from Reuters)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.