The new CEO of the NSO Group has resigned

The new CEO of the NSO Group has resigned

Twelve days after taking charge Wise departure: Isaac Benbenisti, the new CEO of NSO Group, the Israeli company that publishes Pegasus spyware, has announced his departure from the company. Daily reveals Harretz, Thursday, November 11. A senior in the Israeli new technology sector, especially the Israeli telephone operator who led the partnership for six years, joined the NSO group three months ago as vice president. On October 31 he was appointed CEO of the company.

read more: The article is reserved for our subscribers How the NSO Group, an Israeli company, revolutionized intelligence

The NSO Group has been in turmoil since a series of revelations by the Federation of International News Rooms in July. The world. The “Project Pegasus” investigation revealed that the company’s most powerful spyware is widely used to spy on human rights activists, lawyers or journalists. In France, Emmanuel Macron and several members of the government were targeted by the Pegasus.

The company, which denies part of the information to “Project Pegasus”, announced a major change in its direction on October 31: its founder and CEO, Shalev Hulio, left his executive duties as chairman of the board of directors. Focuses on the Group and the company’s IPO projects in Tel Aviv. He was replaced by Mr. Penbenisti was appointed.

Ask more Pegasus: At the center of a global investigation into phone spying

Blocked by the United States

Four days later, to everyone’s surprise, the U.S. Department of Commerce added the NSO Group and its rival, Candiru, to the list of companies subject to strict export and import restrictions, mainly from companies selling rivals, weapons or piracy in the United States.

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This placement sent a very strong signal to the current and future clients of the NSO Group. The US administration justified it by being “Source” Shows the presence of Pegasus users “Harmfully targeted officials, journalists, businessmen, activists, academics and embassy staff”. Mr. for his departure. Penbenisti did not publicly explain, but this US approval played a role in his decision because placing it on this blacklist makes it difficult for the NSO Group to continue to operate.

Read more Pegasus case: NSO group listed by US Department of Commerce

On November 6, the Israeli government withdrew from the NSO Group, an export licensing body approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and unofficial links with the country’s security services were well known – many of the company’s employees were trained in IDF. Electronic Intelligence Unit. “NSO is a private company, it is not a government project, therefore, even if it is designated [par le département du commerce américain], It has nothing to do with the Israeli government. ”, Estimated by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Two days later, a report by the Front Line Defenders organization, based on technical analysis by the renowned University of Toronto’s spyware lab, revealed that the devices of several Palestinian rights activists were infected with Pegasus between July 2020 and April 2021. On November 11, the Palestinian Authority Announced Detects spyware on the phones of three of his “senior officers”, without specifying which ones. Ramallah directly blames Israel for these hacks, which are described in a press release “Explicit and immoral violation of international law”.

Read more The article is reserved for our subscribers Palestinian human rights defenders spy on Pegasus
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According to information from New York Times, The Israeli government initiated diplomatic approaches Try removing the NSO group from the blacklist Department of Commerce. But according to the Israeli press, this is not a ploy to protect the company Not unanimously Within the Israeli government.

Former French ambassador to Washington pursues cooperation with NSO

High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP) On Wednesday, November 10, it made its debate public On October 19, Gérard Araud, the French ambassador to the United States, collaborated with the NSO Group.

Former Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations in New York, and later served as Ambassador to the United States from September 2014 to April 2019. Joined, when retiring, A group of advisors to the NSO Group, specifically dealing with ethical issues, after which he left.

However, before accepting the NSO Group’s offer, Mr. Arat did not seek accreditation because the procedure is generally given to former senior executives, HATVP notes. He did not do so for the other two collaborations with private companies Kering and the Albright Stonebridge Group. Mr. Arad regulated his position and sought recognition for his collaboration with the Albright Stonebridge Group.

In its discussion, Mr. with the High Authority NSO Group. Arat did not comment on the protocol compliance of the collaboration. “These services were discontinued by the NSO Group in September 2020, according to a senior official. (…), He does not need to articulate the compatibility with the former public activities of the person concerned., Writes HATVP.

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