UAE used Israeli firm to hack opponents’ phones
The United Arab Emirates used spyware from an Israeli technology firm to spy on journalists and political rivals, The New York Times reported Friday.
The Herzliya-based NSO Group uses its controversial Pegasus spyware program to turn smartphones into listening devices.
To sell Pegasus to the UAE, the NY Times noted, the company would have had to receive the express permission of Israel’s Defense Ministry, as such software is considered a weapon.
According to the report, leaked emails have shown that when UAE leaders demanded proof of value, an affiliate of NSO hacked the phone of Abdulaziz Alkhamis, the editor of the London-based newspaper Al Arab, and sent them recordings.
It also allegedly advised the UAE on how to best hack the phones of various officials, with the Arab nation’s leaders particularly interested in spying on a Saudi prince, the leader of rival Qatar and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri — though it was not clear whether those officials were actually hacked.
Documents show the UAE has been using Pegasus since 2013.
Both the Emiratis and NSO Group declined to comment.