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PA’s foreign ministry accuses Israel of using NSO’s Pegasus spyware against it

A woman checks the website of Israel-made Pegasus spyware at an office in the Cypriot capital Nicosia on July 21, 2021. (Mario Goldman/AFP)
A woman checks the website of Israel-made Pegasus spyware at an office in the Cypriot capital Nicosia on July 21, 2021. (Mario Goldman/AFP)

The Palestinian Authority foreign ministry says some of its employees’ phones were hacked by Pegasus, a controversial spyware application made by the Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO Group.

An investigation by the rights groups Front Line Defenders, Citizen Lab and Amnesty International alleged on Monday that six Palestinians had their cellphones hacked by the software. Three of the Palestinians worked at organizations Israel recently declared to be terror groups, drawing an international outcry.

The Palestinian rights group Al-Haq had previously declared that some foreign ministry civil servants had also been hacked. But the PA body did not comment until today.

“We always expected that our telephones were infiltrated by the occupation authorities and that all we said and sent was listened to and monitored. But now, we have evidence and legal documents that acknowledge the existence of this Israeli intrusion,” the foreign ministry says in a statement.

NSO Group activities have sparked controversy in recent months. The company has been dogged by accusations that the Pegasus software was used by dictatorships to track dissidents and human rights activists.

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