The Israeli justice opened an investigation against the police for allegedly using the controversial espionage program Pegasus to spy on citizens following accusations in the local press, it was announced on Thursday.
In a letter sent to the police commander, Koby Shabtaï, the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, asked to receive all wiretapping and computer espionage orders carried out in 2020 and 2021 in order to “verify the accusations made in the media “.
As the Israeli business daily Calcalist reported on Thursday, police used the program Pegasus to spy on an Israeli man who, according to them, was a “danger to democracy” and could commit “public order crimes”.
The objective was to gather evidence that could be used to pressure future investigations, explained the newspaper, which did not cite its sources.
The commander of the Israeli police, Yaakov Shabtai, reacted to the news and assured that “the police did not find any evidence to support this information”.
The Israeli police fight crime with all legal means at their disposal,” Shabtai continued, according to a police statement, which added that he had asked Mandelblit to “verify that all eavesdropping was done in accordance with the law.”
The Justice Ministry on Wednesday promised a thorough investigation into allegations that the controversial Pegasus program was used to spy on Israeli citizens, including people who led protests against the former prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu.
Owner of Pegasus, the cybersecurity group NSO is under scrutiny following accusations made by a consortium of 17 international media outlets that the app was allegedly used to spy on journalists, activists and top managers of companies around the world.
NSO neither denied nor confirmed the sale of Pegasus to the Israeli police and stressed that “it was not involved in any way in the operation of the system once it was sold to its government clients”.
The Pegasus app can only be sold to states and these sales must get the green light from a special commission in the Israeli Defense Ministry, which is responsible for approving arms sales.
Once the app is installed on a phone, Pegasus access all the content and messaging of the owner of the phone and also allows remote activation of the mobile to record sounds or images.