Investigative journalists sue Israeli spyware maker in USA

Investigative journalists sue Israeli spyware maker in USA
Investigative journalists sue Israeli spyware maker in USA

After discovering the potent Pegasus spyware from the Israeli company on their iPhones, journalists from an investigative news organisation in El Salvador filed a lawsuit against NSO Group in a US federal court on Wednesday.

Investigative journalists sue Israeli spyware maker in USA

Internet watchdog Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto revealed in January that the spyware had been used repeatedly to infiltrate the smartphones of dozens of journalists and human rights advocates in El Salvador.

Journalists from the El Faro news website were among them.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which brought the complaint on behalf of the El Faro journalists, quoted Carlos Dada, the co-founder and director of El Faro, as saying, “These spyware attacks were an attempt to silence our sources and dissuade us from performing journalism.”

NSO Group did not immediately answer to a request for comment regarding the case. Dada stated, “We are filing this lawsuit to safeguard our right to investigate and report, and to protect journalists around the world in their pursuit of the truth.”

NSO claims that it only sells its spyware to legitimate government law enforcement and intelligence organisations that have been approved by Israel’s Defense Ministry for use against terrorists and criminals. NSO was placed on the U.S. government’s blacklist last year.

NSO said it does not operate the technology once it is handed to a client and is unable to know the targets of its customers in response to the Citizen Lab study from January. However, it asserted that using its tools to keep tabs on journalists, political dissidents, or activists “is a terrible misuse of any technology” and goes against the intended usage of such vital tools. It said that because of client misuse, it has already cancelled numerous contracts.

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At the time, a spokesperson for President Nayib Bukele’s administration in El Salvador said that the government was not a client of NSO Group and had no connection to Pegasus.

Akshat Ayush

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