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Police chief admits using NSO spyware against Israelis, but not against anti-Netanyahu protesters

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai appears at the Knesset on September 13, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai appears at the Knesset on September 13, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai admits to the usage of NSO Group spyware against Israeli citizens, but promises that everything was done with the appropriate warrants and oversight. He denies using it against anti-Netanyahu activists.

A report in Calcalist this morning claims that police have for years been making widespread use of spyware made by the controversial NSO Group against Israeli civilians, including people not suspected of crimes, exploiting a legal loophole and keeping the surveillance under tight secrecy without oversight by a court or a judge.

In Shabtai’s response to the report, the police chief does not deny that it uses the company’s Pegasus spyware, but says that “everything is done with the required legal approvals.”

He denies, however, claims in the report that the spyware was used against anti-government protesters or other activists. “These kinds of tools were not used against Black Flag [anti-Netanyahu] demonstrators, the phones of heads of municipalities or to track anti-pride parade activists.”

He says the use of such tools is “one of the most controlled and supervised areas by all legal entities both inside and outside the police.”

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