A report in the Washington Post says the Israeli government was directly involved in the sale of sophisticated spyware to Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom purge and assassinate dissidents.
The Post said in its report that Israel’s ministry of military affairs had authorized the NSO Group to sell Pegasus, a patch of highly complicated software used for hacking and espionage, to the Saudi kingdom despite earlier denials that the Tel Aviv regime was directly involved in the case.
The report said the sale was carried out through a subsidiary of the NSO in Luxembourg. The firm, officially known as Q Cyber Technologies, enabled Riyadh to target individuals and entities in six Middle Eastern countries.
It said the transaction was carried out after the Israeli government gave its consent to the move despite reservations by some Israeli officials who believed that the technology should not be made available to Arab governments.
The report come after certain Saudi dissident figures revealed to the media how their phones had been hacked as part of Saudi government’s extensive use of pagasus.
Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi activist based on Montreal, Canada, has launched a legal actionagainst the NSO after it was revealed that it was the hacking of his phone conversations and chats with slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that led to his assassination in Turkey in early October.
“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” said Abdulaziz in an interview with the CNN.
Khashoggi’s brutal assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked massive international outrage against Saudi Arabia. Many believe the death, which Turkey and the US officials believe came on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, exposed Riyadh’s massive crackdown on the dissent.
Saudi Arabia has expanded its secret ties to Israel under MbS. The son of King Salman who is viewed by many as the Kingdom’s de facto ruler, has made it clear that he and the Israelis stand on the same front to counter Iran and its growing influence in the Middle East.