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Spain questions Israel’s NSO CEO over Pegasus hacking scandal

June 8, 2022 at 10:25 am

A photographic illustration shows a mobile phone near the NSO Group company logo [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

Spain’s High Court has called the CEO of Israel’s notorious NSO Group for questioning over hacking Spanish officials’ mobile phones using Pegasus, a spyware product of the Israeli firm, news agency reported on Tuesday.

According to a statement issued by the court, Judge José Luis Calama will travel to Israel to question Shalev Hulio as part of a so-called rogatory commission to investigate the hacking.

The court, news agencies disclosed, did not issue a date for the testimony. Meanwhile, the judge has summoned Spain’s Minister of the Presidency Félix Bolaños to testify as a witness in the espionage case.

Spanish government spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez confirmed that Bolaños had been called to testify because “he was the minister who took the case to court” on behalf of the government.

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The espionage incident led the Spanish government to sack Paz Esteban, the director of its intelligence agency (CNI), following the disclosure of the hacking of the phones of politicians.

The mobile phones of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, his defence and interior ministers, and several Catalan pro-independence politicians and officials were hacked.

The NSO Group shared: “It creates technology that helps government agencies prevent and investigate terrorism and crime to save thousands of lives around the globe.”

However, NSO’s Pegasus has been linked to the hacking of other political leaders and activists in other countries, while NSO has denied playing any part in this apparent misuse of its evasive technology.

Israel's Pegasus spyware global weapon to silence critics? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israel’s Pegasus spyware global weapon to silence critics? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]