Israeli Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev on Saturday night denied a recent press report that the Israel Police has been using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware against citizens, without a court order, through use of a legal loophole.

“I can tell you that all the examinations, including those by the attorney-general … other than the fact that the police use advanced technologies, turned out to [reveal that the accusations are] incorrect,” he told Channel 12.

He said that within three days of the publication of the report in the business daily Calcalist, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit got involved and the assertions—including that the Israeli technology firm’s spyware was used to hack the phones of mayors, government employees, activists against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others—turned out to be wrong. 

He quoted a letter written by Mandelblit, which stated, “We have not found any basis for concern about illegal organizational use. We are satisfied that the Israel Police is acting by virtuous power under the law.”

Bar-Lev added that an investigation has been opened and that Mandelblit’s deputy will continue to look into the matter, with the initial aim of weeding out any “rotten apples” that could be operating against the system.


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