Israel Appeals to US to Remove NSO from Blacklist

By Hamodia Staff

YERUSHALAYIM – Israeli officials have repeatedly asked the Biden administration to remove NSO, developers of the Pegasus spyware, from its blacklist, according to Wall news, citing U.S. and Israeli sources on Thursday.

There were conflicting reports as to whether the administration was considering the request or had rejected it outright. A reversal of policy would draw fire from a host of NSO critics both in the U.S. and internationally.

NSO has been accused of selling its software to a number of countries to spy on opposition figures and journalists. In July 2021, an international media investigation found that such countries as Hungary, India, Morocco, Mexico and Saudi Arabia had made such use of the Pegasus program.

“We told the Americans that they could not tear down NSO. Even if the company had some problematic customers, it does not mean that the company’s products and capabilities are no longer needed,” a senior Israeli official told Walla.

In recent years, NSO became a strategic asset for the Israeli defense community, especially the Mossad. The company has had a role in promoting secret ties with countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations and to strengthen intelligence ties with countries that do recognize Israel, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The NSO case marked the first time that the U.S. imposed sanctions on an Israeli cyber company that receives an export license from the Israeli Defense Ministry. The Department of Commerce charges that NSO provided spyware to governments that used it against diplomats at American embassies around the world.

As part of the sanctions, any American company that wants to do business with NSO must obtain a license from the department.

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