Israeli police admit using NSO spyware on citizens

Israeli police admit using NSO spyware on citizens
This is the first time Israel admits to using the controversial Pegasus spyware against its own citizens.
2 min read
01 February, 2022
The Israeli police recognized it had misused the spyware after an internal probe [Getty]

Investigators from the Israeli police secretly used sophisticated spyware to snoop on citizens' phones, the Israeli police admitted for the first time on Tuesday.

An internal probe uncovered evidence of unauthorised use of the Pegasus spyware, sold by the controversial NSO group, to target the phones of Israeli citizens.

The probe was launched in January after the Israeli news site Calcalist reported a string of instances of police using Pegasus to surveil protesters, politicians and criminal suspects without authorisation from a judge.

Initially, the police denied the website's findings and said they operated according to the law. Outrage in Israel prompted the attorney general to launch an investigation.

Last month, the police announced that their preliminary internal investigation had found no evidence of misuse of the spyware, but Tuesday's statement said that "additional findings" from the internal probe "change in some ways" last month's findings.


Israel's attorney general has instructed the police “to adopt procedures immediately in order to prevent breach of authority" and instructed his fact-finding team to submit a report about allegations of unlawful surveillance of civilians by July 1.

NSO Group has been mired in controversy following revelations its spyware was used in several countries against journalists, activists and even US diplomats.

The US barred the firm from accessing American technology last year, saying its tools have been used by repressive regimes, and Facebook and Apple have filed lawsuits against NSO over hacks against their products.

Pegasus allows its operator to intercept calls, read text messages, infiltrate encrypted apps, and track the location of an infected phone.

It can also turn a mobile phone into a listening device. It has been sold to a number of repressive regimes around the world.