Pegasus scandal: NSO chief says potential attack by Qatar, BDS


NSO Group’s CEO and cofounder Shalev Hulio has responded to ongoing allegations that his company’s Pegasus spyware was used to hack smartphones and spy on top world leaders, high-profile journalists, and human rights activists across the world.

Speaking to the media, Hulio hit out at the research and maintained that the revelations are not related to NSO. He further denied the involvement of NSO in attempts to hack French government officials, including President Emmanuel Macron and prominent journalists. “It’s definitely not related to NSO; it’s definitely not related to Pegasus. This is what I can confirm,” he said, as quoted by a Forbes report.

Involvement of Qatar, BDS

In a special interview with Israel Hayom, Hulio stated that the controversy has been created by either Qatar or the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement or maybe both.

“I believe that in the end, it will turn out to be Qatar or the BDS movement, or both. It is always the same entity,” he added A source familiar with NSO told Forbes that in one case, Qatar offered millions of dollars to the company to use its spyware. However, the company denied the deal due to the country’s unfavourable human rights record.

Hulio further welcomed a probe into the allegations that NSO’s Pegasus software was used to spy on politicians, journalists, and activists by various governments.

“We do not have and have never had any ties to the list that was published, and if it turns out that there was some client who exploited our system to track journalists or rights workers, they’ll be cut off immediately,” he said during the interview.

Last week, the expose leaked about 50,000 cellphone numbers, stating that governments used the NSO’s program to hack and spy on prominent personalities across the world.

“Lifesaving program”

Hulio noted that the NSO Group has been working with governments to monitor and capture criminals, terrorists, and gangsters using its spyware tools. He further termed Pegasus as a “lifesaving program” aimed at battling terrorism and crime. He maintained that his company cannot be held responsible for any misuse of these spyware tools.

“We are selling our products to governments. We have no way to monitor what those governments do. But if those governments misuse the system, we have a way to investigate. We will shut them down,” he added. Founded in 2010, the NSO boasts of Ebitda earnings of $120 million on $250 million of sales last year.



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