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NSO CEO accuses Qatar or BDS of being behind Pegasus scandal

'There are people who don't want ice cream to be imported to Israel or for technology to be exported,' says Shalev Hulio

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- NSO Group co-founder and CEO Shalev Hulio told an Israeli newspaper that “Qatar or the BDS movement – maybe both” are behind the scandal surrounding his company’s Pegasus spyware.

In a special interview with Israel Hayom, Hulio claimed that the scandal has been exposed by either Qatar or the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement or maybe both.

“I believe that in the end, it will turn out to be Qatar or the BDS movement, or both. It is always the same entity,” he claimed.

Amnesty International, Forbidden Stories, and a consortium of international media organizations have said the spyware was used in hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, officials, human rights activists, and world leaders.

The investigative group says it has acquired a list of 50,000 phone numbers that appear to be targets, identified by the Israeli company’s clients, to be spied on using Pegasus.

The numbers of French President Emmanuel Macron, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Iraqi President Barham Salih and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan are among the apparent targets.

Hulio further welcomed a probe into the misuse of NSO’s spying software “because we’ll be able to clear our name,” as Hulio told Israel Hayom.

“We don’t have and have never had any ties to the list that was published, and if it turns out that there was some client who exploited our system to track journalists or human rights workers, they’ll be cut off immediately,” said Hulio. “We’ve proven that in the past, including with some of our biggest customers, and we stopped working with them.”

Hulio, 39, said that he first learned of the investigation about a month ago.

“A third party reached out to me, someone we work with, not involved [in the affair] and said, ‘Listen, they’ve broken into your servers in Cyprus and the entire list of NSO targets has been leaked,'” he said.

“I started to get stressed, but after a moment I calmed down, both because we don’t have servers in Cyprus and also because we don’t have a list of ‘targets.’ It doesn’t work that way: every customer is a unique customer. We don’t have any central location where all the customers’ targets are collected.”

However, a few days later Hulio was contacted by another businessman with an identical story that was going around the market about an NSO “list of targets”.

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