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State comptroller to investigate claims NSO spyware used against Israeli citizens

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman at a conference in Herzliya, on December 7, 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem)
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman at a conference in Herzliya, on December 7, 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem)

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman says he will open an investigation into claims that the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware was used against Israeli citizens, including protesters and activists.

An explosive report from the Calcalist business news outlet this morning said police have for years been making widespread use of the spyware 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.

The use of such technological tracking “raises questions of balance between their usefulness and the violation of the right to privacy and other freedoms,” says Englman.

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai did not deny that police used the spyware against Israeli citizens, but said some of the allegations were incorrect, and stressed that everything was done with the appropriate warrants and oversight.

Shabtai denied claims the technology was used against anti-Netanyahu protesters, local authorities and people opposed to pride parades.

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