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Israel Police chief cuts visit to UAE short following spyware scandal

This studio photographic illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group which features 'Pegasus' spyware, on display in Paris on July 21, 2021. - Private Israeli firm NSO Group has denied media reports its Pegasus software is linked to the mass surveillance of journalists and rights defenders, and insisted that all sales of its technology are approved by Israel's defence ministry (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP) (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)
This studio photographic illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group which features 'Pegasus' spyware, on display in Paris on July 21, 2021 [JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai cut short his official visit to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, returned to Israel to follow up on reports that his force unlawfully used the Pegasus spyware, local media reported.

Media reports had previously reported the illicit use by police of powerful spyware against confidantes of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other public figures

"In light of recent publications and in order to keep a close eye on developments, the commissioner will shorten his visit," the police said in a statement.

According to the statement, Shabtai supports an investigation headed by a judge, pointing out that the police "has nothing to hide from the public."

Shabtai's early return reflects the seriousness of the allegations, local media said.

Police denied the allegations and said no evidence of illegal activity had been uncovered.

As a result of the scandal, Netanyahu's corruption trial was postponed to await answers from the prosecution about the hacking allegations.

READ: Israel ramps up scrutiny of police as NSO scandal spreads

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