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Israel investigates NSO spyware allegations



(Reuters) – Israel has set up a high-level inter-ministerial team to investigate growing allegations that spyware sold by an Israeli cyber company has been abused globally, an Israeli source said on Wednesday, adding that an export review was unlikely.

The team is led by Israel's National Security Council, which responds to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and has broader areas of expertise than the Ministry of Defense, which oversees the export of the NSO group's Pegasus software, the source said. [19659002] "This incident is beyond the reach of the Ministry of Defense," the source said, referring to potential diplomatic recidivism following prominent media reports this week of suspected abuses against Pegasus in France, Mexico, India, Morocco and Iraq.

On Wednesday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said French President Emmanuel Macron had called for a series of investigations into Pegasus' spy program.

President Macron's phone was on a list of potentially all targets for possible surveillance on behalf of Morocco in the Pegasus case, the French newspaper Le Monde said on Tuesday.

The source, who has first-hand knowledge of the Israeli team and requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, was considered "doubtful" that new curbs would be placed on Pegasus' exports.

Stops briefly to describe the team's task as a formal investigation, the source says: "The goal is to find out what happened, to investigate this issue and learn lessons."

In a comment on the development, an NSO said "We welcome all decisions made by the Government of Israel, and we are convinced that the company's operations are without fault."

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