Khashoggi Friend Sues Israeli Spyware Firm Over the Journalist’s Murder

December 3, 2018, 2:06 PM UTC

A Saudi dissident filed suit in a Tel Aviv court against NSO Group, a company whose spyware allegedly helped Saudi Arabia track and ultimately kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to the Associated Press.

Omar Abdulaziz, who received asylum from Canada, claims that he clicked on a link sent to his phone that surreptitiously allowed the NSO Group’s technology, called Pegasus, to spy on him. Abdulaziz was in close contact with Khashoggi to plan actions to embarrass the Saudi government.

Abdulaziz seeks about $160,000 and a revocation of its Israeli export license that allows it to sell the software to governments around the world.

In a statement to AP, NSO Group said that its software “enables governments and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime” and that it does not “tolerate misuse of our products.”

This isn’t the first lawsuit targeting NSO Group. In August, the New York Times reported on lawsuits filed in Cyprus and Israel by Mexican journalists and Qatari activists that governments use the software to crack down on dissent. Another suit, filed in Panama, claims that a former president of that country used the technology to spy on rivals and critics.

Amnesty International has claimed that someone used the technology on one of its staff members. The NGO sent a request to Israel’s Ministry of Defense, demanding that NSO Group’s export license be revoked.

The software is reportedly powerful. Motherboard reported an interview with an unnamed Israeli entrepreneur who said he had been given a demo. He went to the NSO Group’s office, gave them his phone number, and within “five or seven minutes” saw all the contents of the phone on a large monitor.