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Spanish judge to visit Israel to take testimony from NSO chief on Pegasus spyware

NSO Group CEO Shalev Hulio speaks with Channel 12 News in an interview aired on January 29, 2022. (Screenshot/Channel 12)
NSO Group CEO Shalev Hulio speaks with Channel 12 News in an interview aired on January 29, 2022. (Screenshot/Channel 12)

BARCELONA, Spain — A Spanish judge will travel to Israel to seek testimony from the head of tech company NSO, the maker of the controversial Pegasus spyware used in tapping politicians’ phones in Spain, the country’s National Court says today.

The court says that José Luis Calama has decided to lead a judicial commission that will travel to Israel to “take testimony from the CEO of the company that commercializes the Pegasus program.”

Shalev Hulio is the CEO of the Tel Aviv-based NSO Group. The court gives no date for the judge’s trip.

The information is made public after the judge removed the seal of secrecy from the case concerning the hacking of the cellphones of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Spain’s ministers of defense and interior in May and June 2021.

The cyberattack coincided with a diplomatic rift between Spain and Morocco. But Spain’s government, which took the case to Spanish court on discovering the hacks last month, has only said that the hacks came from an “external” power.

NSO says that it only sells its Pegasus spyware to governments for security purposes. Pegasus has been linked to the hacking of other political leaders and activists in other countries. NSO has denied playing any part of this apparent misuse of its evasive technology that has come to light thanks to the work of digital-rights groups inspecting individual phones.

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