Israel encouraged spy tech firms to work with Saudis after Khashoggi killing – NYT

Israel has continued to allow cyber-surveillance companies to secretly work with Saudi Arabia, despite the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The New York Times reports.

Citing government officials and other sources familiar with the matter, the newspaper says controversial private intelligence firm NSO Group cut ties with Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s 2018 killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

However, the Israeli government encouraged it and two other firms to keep working with the Saudis. A fourth firm wasn also reportedly given a license to work with Saudi Arabia.

According to the report, one of the firms given permission by the Defense Ministry to work with Saudi Arabia is named Candiru. On Thursday, Microsoft said it issued a software update to block spy tools developed by the firm that were allegedly used to snoop on over 100 people worldwide, including dissidents, activists and journalists.

The other two firms named in the report that have licenses to work with Saudi Arabia are Verint and Quadream, the latter of which was said to have begun working with Riyadh following the Khashoggi killing.

The Defense Ministry tells the Times in response that it will revoke the license of any company whose wares are used to violate human rights, while declining to discuss specific licenses it has issued.

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