Pegasus: NSO had sealed contracts with 12 EU countries, European investigation reveals, confirming politically-motivated manipulation
A European Parliament’s fact-finding mission on the Pegasus spyware case revealed after investigations in Israel and contacts with NSO company which developed the spyware, that the company had sealed contracts with 22 customers in 12 countries of the 27-member European Union.
These findings show that the Pegasus affair relayed in 2021 by several international NGOs and media, like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories consortium (grouping 17 Western media), which pointed the finger primarily on the software’s users in non-Western countries, including Morocco and other states in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, suggesting that Western countries respected the rules, privacy and did not engage in espionage, was in fact an orchestrated campaign, dictated by political motivations.
The campaign by international but especially French media group and NGOs had accused Morocco of using the Israeli spyware Pegasus. Morocco then filed defamation suits with the Paris Court, demanding that evidence to corroborate these accusations be revealed.
According to the Israeli media Haaretz, the European commission of enquiry was set up after European commissioners denounced having been spied on, which suggested that it was European state-to-European state espionage.
The European commission members were “surprised” to discover during their investigation in Israel that NSO had European customers, and that out of 14 European countries that had signed contracts with the company in the past, 12 are still using the Pegasus program at a state level, reveals the Israeli media.
“The Israeli firm’s responses to questions from the European Commission reveal that the company works with many security bodies in the EU,” reports the Israeli daily Haaretz, debunking the allegations by Forbidden Stories consortium and NGOs that had targeted Morocco.
Many EU countries had signed contracts with the Israeli company in the past, and 12 still use Pegasus for lawful interception of cell phones calls, according to NSO’s response to questions from the European Commission, explains Haaretz.
Part of these revelations, the Israeli company explained that it currently works with 22 European “end users” – security agencies, intelligence departments and law enforcement agencies- in 12 European countries. In some of these countries, NSO has more than one customer under contracts signed not with the country but with the operating agencies, according to the revelations of the investigation.
In Spain, the hacking operations were carried out legally, according to the revelations of Haaretz, confirming that several European countries carry out wiretapping of civilians according to the law and under judicial control.
The commission members also met during their visit to Israel with Defense Ministry officials and local experts. Upon their return to Europe, they also discovered that there was a highly developed cyberwar and espionage industry whose main customers were European countries.
“If a single company has 14 Member States for customers, you can imagine the overall size of the industry. There seems to be a huge market for commercial spyware, and EU governments are very keen buyers. But they are very quiet about it, keeping it out of public view,” said a member of the Pegasus Inquiry commission.
These shocking revelations and others that are surely still in store shed light on the real goals of the orchestrated campaign against specific countries, including Morocco, in the Pegasus case.