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Trudeau tries to distance himself from allegations of interference in SNC-Lavalin case

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OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to distance himself from allegations of improper pressure on former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, telling reporters she has “confirmed” privately to him that he told her last fall the decision on whether to negotiate a deal for SNC-Lavalin on corruption charges was “hers alone.”

But word that the federal ethics commissioner was launching a probe into the affair heightened pressure on the prime minister Monday, who insisted he continues to have “full confidence in Jody.”

And Trudeau said he “welcomed” the federal ethics inquiry by commissioner Mario Dion into the explosive allegation reported last week that senior PMO officials pressured Wilson-Raybould to cut a sweetheart deal for the Quebec company facing bribery and fraud charges. Opposition MPs charge that Wilson-Raybould was bumped from the justice post in January because she resisted that pressure.

At a news conference to announce funding for three Vancouver housing projects, Trudeau was flanked by several of his B.C. MPs and ministers, but Wilson-Raybould who represents the riding of Vancouver Granville was conspicuous by her absence.

The prime minister offered no explanation for why she was not there but twice said he has confidence in her, and that “in our system of government of course her presence in cabinet should speak for itself.”

In other words, she has neither been fired nor has she quit.

Trudeau in French said he twice met with Wilson-Raybould since travelling to Vancouver Sunday, and said she told him she felt solicitor-client privilege prevented her from speaking publicly to allegations published first in the Globe and Mail Thursday.

Since that explosive report, senior government officials acknowledged there was “robust debate” about the SNC-Lavalin file, but deny that Wilson-Raybould was pressured.

On Monday, Trudeau took pains to reveal the content of his own private conversations with Wilson-Raybould in the past two days, which also revealed an exchange he had with her on the topic on an unspecified date last year.

“She confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone,” Trudeau said.

“I respect her view that due to privilege she cannot comment or add on matters recently before the media and I highlight we’re bound by cabinet confidentiality.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer — who has called on the government to waive privilege to allow Wilson-Raybould to publicly address the allegations — pressed Trudeau again on that front Monday.

“Justin Trudeau said he spoke to Jody Wilson-Raybould and he reported on the nature of those conversations. I think it’s time for Justin Trudeau to stop speaking for Jody Wilson-Raybould and let her speak for herself,” Scheer said.

Trudeau said that he has asked Justice Minister David Lametti to look into the “complicated” question of whether the government can or should waive the solicitor-client privilege that surrounds PMO discussions with Wilson-Raybould, who as attorney general was the government’s top legal adviser on the SNC-Lavalin file.

In an Oct. 9, 2018 letter, Kathleen Roussel, the director of public prosecutions, refused SNC-Lavalin’s request that her office issue “an invitation to negotiate” a deferred prosecution agreement. It would have allowed the company to pay a heavy fine and agree to corporate ethical reforms, but avoid registering a criminal conviction. A criminal conviction could impact the firm’s ability to bid on future government contracts. SNC-Lavalin has challenged that refusal in court, and is awaiting a decision.

Trudeau signalled his office would co-operate with the probe launched by Dion, the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner.

“I believe that it’s extremely important that Canadians can continue to have confidence in our system and that’s why I welcome the ethics commissioner’s interest in this matter.”

Trudeau’s spokesman Cameron Ahmad has confirmed publicly that Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts met with Wilson-Raybould on Dec. 5. He said she raised the SNC-Lavalin file with him, and he told her to speak to Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick about it.

Trudeau said while he always believed the decision “was hers to make,” he had “obviously … heard from premiers, Canadians who are aware of the thousands of jobs at SNC-Lavalin and this is an issue of course that we take seriously as a government.

“But at the same time we ensure that we are upholding the rigour and the independence of our justice system.”

In a letter to two NDP MPs, Dion, the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner, confirmed his probe into the allegations that became public last week, saying he has “reason to believe” that a possible contravention of section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act has occurred.

That section prohibits a public office holder from seeking to influence a decision of another person to improperly further another person’s private interests.

Cullen said in an interview that the ethics commissioner’s acknowledgment there is something to be probed shows the need for the Commons justice committee to also do its own inquiry.

Read more:

Andrew Scheer met with SNC-Lavalin chief over criminal charges

Top prosecutor defends independence and decision to prosecute SNC-Lavalin

Liberals to block opposition attempt to probe SNC-Lavalin affair

Cullen criticized Lametti for suggesting in a CTV interview that he saw nothing for the justice committee to look into, even as he admitted he had not talked to his predecessor about what pressure if any she felt.

“This hear-no-evil, see-no-evil by the top prosecutor is incredibly disturbing to me,” he said.

In a speech for the Canadian Bar Association Monday afternoon, Lametti said the Canadian system means the attorney general is placed at the cabinet table with the politically-appointed ministers, and can consult with them on important decisions.

“These discussions can improve the quality of decision-making, but there is a line that cannot be crossed: telling an attorney general what a decision ought to be. That would be interference,” he said.

But speaking to reporters after his speech, Lametti was more reluctant to speak than in recent days when he defended the government and said there was nothing he saw to merit an investigation.

And despite having revealed in two weekend interviews that he had not spoken to Wilson-Raybould to hear her side of the story, Lametti said Monday his role as “the government’s lawyer” prevents him from saying whether he has spoken to her about the situation.

Lametti declined to say whether he would advise Trudeau to waive solicitor-client privilege, and declined to comment on the ethics commissioner’s investigation.

He also refused to discuss whether he would consider overruling prosecutors and agree to pursue mediation in the SNC-Lavalin case — even though he told CTV this weekend that such an agreement “remains a possibility.”

The Commons’ justice committee will meet Wednesday to decide whether to launch its own investigation. Conservative and NDP MPs want hearings, with Lametti, Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau’s senior aides called as witnesses.

However the opposition parties doubt those hearings will proceed, given that Liberal MPs hold the majority on the committee and are expected to vote down the motion.

Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi (Willowdale), a member of the committee, told the Star Monday that at this point, he has “no cause to be concerned” about what he has heard so far about the PMO’s dealings with Wilson-Raybould.

“That is because the story was based on anonymous sources. I haven’t seen any facts that would support the contention that there has been a coverup,” Ehssasi said in an interview.

But he said it’s “imperative” to keep an open mind and listen to the discussions Wednesday when the committee meets.

Yet Liberal New Brunswick MP Wayne Long is voicing his support for the committee investigation, saying he was “deeply unsettled” by the allegations. “I am also seeking answers that will clear the air regarding exactly what happened… I believe a full and transparent investigation is necessary,” Long said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflierTonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga



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Canadian captured in Syria admits to role in gruesome ISIS execution videos

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A Canadian captured in northern Syria last month has admitted he helped produce ISIS propaganda videos that showed prisoners digging their own graves and being executed, according to a local source.

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Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed, who was detained by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Jan. 13, acknowledged his role in the ISIS videos Flames of War and Flames of War 2, the Rojava Information Centre said.

“Our sources in YPG confirmed that he is the narrator of both FoW [Flames of War] videos,” the group said. The YPG is the Kurdish militia that dominates the SDF alliance fighting ISIS.

The group said he had acknowledged writing the scripts but that it could not yet confirm it’s his voice heard reading them in the videos, although that now seems likely.

WATCH: Canadian ISIS fighter talks about his capture






Shortly after Mohammed was caught in the last patch of ISIS territory, Global News reported he seemed to be the long-sought Canadian narrator of the videos and many of the terror group’s other releases.

His alleged admission came as the government is under pressure to take back and prosecute captured Canadian ISIS members, and the RCMP is struggling to collect enough evidence to charge them.

The U.S. State Department has asked countries to repatriate and put captured ISIS members on trial. A lobby group for the families of those in detention, Families Against Violent Extremism, said 29 Canadians were being held in Kurdish camps and prisons, and two more were still attempting to surrender.

They include women who had married ISIS foreign fighters, and their children, but also several self-admitted foreign terrorist fighters from Toronto and Montreal like Mohammed.


READ MORE:
Narrator of ISIS execution video is Canadian, says captured Mississauga ISIS member

In the English-language Flames of War video, the narrator praised jihadist foreign fighters who had come to Syria from around the world and said they were “chosen by Allah.”

During a scene that showed the mass execution of prisoners lying face-down, he said ISIS was “harsh against the kuffar [non-believers]. This harshness never wavered and was a constant trait of the brothers.”

The 55-minute video ended with a row of kneeling prisoners being shot in the back of the head and tumbling forward into the mass grave they have just dug with shovels.

The same narrator’s voice can be heard in the 2017 video Flames of War 2, which similarly showed prisoners digging their own graves and ends with their execution. The same voice appears to have claimed responsibility for the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130.

WATCH: U.S. urging allies to bring home foreign ISIS fighters






But his identity remained a mystery until a captured Canadian ISIS fighter, Muhammad Ali, identified him to Global News last October as an Ontario man who went by Abu Ridwan.

Ali said he believed Abu Ridwan was still alive.

Last month, as Kurdish fighters closed in on the last area of ISIS-held territory, they detained Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed, who told his captors he was a former student at Toronto’s Ryerson University who had joined ISIS in 2013.

A childhood friend subsequently told Canadian terrorism researcher Prof. Amarnath Amarasingam that Mohammed was “Abu Ridwan” and the voice heard in ISIS propaganda.


READ MORE:
Canadian women fleeing ISIS territory surrender to U.S.-backed forces in Syria

The RCMP has been investigating Mohammed, who surrendered following a firefight, but he has not been charged. It’s unclear what weight his admission to his captors could have as evidence in court.

The Canadian open source intelligence group iBrabo has located the site of the mass execution shown at the end of the first Flames of War video and suggested the RCMP treat it as a crime scene for evidence purposes.

A former senior Canadian Security Intelligence Service official, Andrew Ellis, said in a 2016 speech at the Royal Canadian Military Institute that “many” Canadians were active in the ISIS propaganda wing.

“I would argue that that may be equally as dangerous, maybe more, than someone who is joining the military wing. A lot of these young Western adherents to Daesh are put on the frontlines and die very quickly.

“Someone who is working in the propaganda wing can hurt us over and over and over again,” he said.

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Critics call for ‘robust’ oversight of CBSA following CBC reports on staff misconduct

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Advocacy groups are again calling for « robust, independent and external oversight » of the country’s border service following reporting by CBC News on misconduct at the Canada Border Services Agency.

CBC News recently reported that the agency investigated around 1,200 allegations of staff misconduct between January 2016 and the middle of 2018. Alleged offences recorded in the records released to CBC News include sexual assault, criminal association and harassment.

« We were not surprised, » said Josh Paterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. « My main reaction was, this just makes [it] even clearer why there needs to be independent oversight for this agency. »

The BCCLA is one of three groups behind a letter to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale asking when the government will introduce CBSA oversight legislation. The presidents of the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers also signed the letter.

The CBSA’s sweeping powers include the right to search travellers, use firearms and conduct deportations. It’s the only major federal law enforcement agency without external oversight of employee conduct.

The groups’ letter also cited a recent CBC News report that said the agency had lost a USB key containing a refugee claimant’s personal information.

« We have had our own experiences of bringing very serious complaints to the CBSA, and they go nowhere, because there is no independent accountability measure, » said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

The groups call in the letter for an oversight body that can « investigate complaints » and « conduct proactive assessments of CBSA policies and practices. »

Dench said the oversight agency also should be able to hear complaints from third parties, such as non-government organizations.

« Often, we are in a position to say, ‘Look, we’ve seen a pattern of disturbing behaviour, or we have heard from somebody who’s not in a position to complain themselves,' » she said.

Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Goodale, sent CBC News a statement Thursday that was identical in some respects to a statement the department issued last month.

« CBSA officers processed 95 million travellers in 2017, and only a very small number of these interactions led to a formal complaint, » Bardsley said in an email.

Bardsley said in a statement last month that the government was « working on separate legislation to create an appropriate mechanism to review CBSA officer conduct and conditions, and handle specific complaints. »

But the government’s window to introduce legislation is closing, with a general election due this fall.

« The CBSA … does not have independent review of officer conduct, and that is a gap that definitely needs to be addressed, » Goodale told a Senate committee in 2016.

Following the recent CBC News story, Goodale said the government is preparing legislation that would create « another unit … that looks specifically at the issues of officer conduct or incident investigation.

« We continue to work at it as rapidly as we can. »



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Are shadowy agents targeting Canadians who criticize an Israeli spyware firm? – National

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John Scott-Railton rushed into the Peninsula Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York City, behind schedule, half-soaked from a rainstorm and out of breath. He hurried through the lobby to the hotel’s five-star restaurant, the Clement, praying that the microphone hidden under his tie was still working, and that his lunch date hadn’t bailed.

He felt like a mess as he moved through the swanky hotel. He worried his whole plan was about to fall apart because of a bit of traffic on the way over.

Scott-Railton was set to meet with Michel Lambert, a wealthy entrepreneur who promised him a lucrative business opportunity — one that paid far better than his spyware-hunting job at Citizen Lab in Toronto.

But he says he knew the man he ultimately sat down with for dinner that afternoon was not a businessman named Michel Lambert. According to Scott-Railton, he was an ex-spy from Israel operating under a false name.

A man who identified himself as Michel Lambert reacts during an interview at a restaurant in New York on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

AP Photo/Joseph Frederick

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Scott-Railton says he agreed to meet the man he says was a covert operative because he wanted to “turn the tables” on a shadowy operation that had targeted his Citizen Lab colleague, Bahar Abdul Razzak, a few months earlier. A supposed entrepreneur had lured Razzak to a meeting in Toronto, then grilled him about his research into NSO Group, an Israeli tech firm with software that can hack any smartphone via text message, according to Scott-Railton.


READ MORE:
Undercover spies caught fishing for anti-Israel remarks following Canadian sting

Citizen Lab has been tracking NSO Group’s phone-cracking software for years, and its research forms the basis of three major lawsuits. The plaintiffs allege that NSO’s software was used to hack their phones and spy on them because they were critical of governments in Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“Lambert” asked Scott-Railton several questions about NSO over lunch. He also posed leading questions about potential anti-Israel bias or outside funding at Citizen Lab, an independent research facility at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, poses for a photo in New York City on Jan. 17, 2019.

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

However, the man had little to say once Scott-Railton invited a hidden Associated Press reporter over to the table.

“I don’t have to speak with you,” said the man, whom the New York Times and Israel’s Channel 12 later identified as former Israeli security official Aharon Almog-Assouline. Almog-Assouline stormed out of the restaurant and refused to answer questions from the AP reporter.

The sting has shed light on an alleged wider plot targeting at least six critics of NSO, an Israeli cybersecurity firm that helps law enforcement access suspects’ smartphones. Three lawsuits accuse NSO of selling its phone-cracking program, Pegasus, to governments that allegedly used it to monitor journalists and activists. The lawsuits call for NSO to stop selling Pegasus to some of its most lucrative government clients, many of whom pay tens of millions of dollars for its services.

Global News has reached out to NSO Group for comment on Citizen Lab’s reports, the lawsuits against it and the alleged attempts by anonymous individuals to contact people linked to those lawsuits. NSO has not responded. However, it has previously refuted the Citizen Lab reports, rejected the claims in the lawsuits and denied any connection to those asking about the lawsuits.

Citizen Lab

Citizen Lab, which operates out of the University of Toronto, does independent research into human rights abuses online, such as government surveillance and censorship.

“Our work exposing these abuses is clearly making some people uncomfortable, and we are being targeted with underhanded, unethical tactics,” Scott-Railton told Global News.

“To us, this is a signal that we are doing something right, and why academic work is so important.”

Scott-Railton and his colleagues at U of T’s Citizen Lab have been monitoring NSO since 2016.

Citizen Lab has published over a dozen reports documenting alleged abuse of NSO’s software, Pegasus, based on digital forensics. They say NSO has been reckless with its choice of clients, by selling to governments with a history of human rights abuses.


READ MORE:
Toronto-based Citizen Lab, which exposed Israeli spy software, targeted by undercover agents

Citizen Lab alleges that NSO’s Pegasus software has been used for political purposes in several countries, including Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Overall, Citizen Lab estimates that 36 operators have used Pegasus on targets in 45 different nations, including the United States and Canada. It says six operators were linked to countries with a “history of abusing spyware to target civil society.”

NSO Group has repeatedly denied all allegations stemming from Citizen Lab’s research, and insists that its technology is only used for law enforcement purposes. The company has disputed Citizen Lab’s list of countries where it operates, and claims that the product “will not operate outside of approved countries.”

Shady operators

A recent AP investigation found that at least six individuals linked to NSO lawsuits, including Citizen Lab’s Razzak and Scott-Railton, have been targeted by undercover operatives seeking information about the cases. These shady figures invited their targets to swanky dinners to discuss lucrative job offers, then questioned them about NSO, according to the AP.

Two people targeted by undercover operatives were secretly recorded and the footage later broadcast on Israeli television, the AP reports.

“There’s somebody who’s really interested in sabotaging the case,” Mazen Masri, who is one of the alleged targets, told the Associated Press. Masri teaches at City University in London, and is advising the plaintiff’s attorney in one of the NSO lawsuits. He suggested the man was “looking for dirt and relevant information about people involved.”

WATCH BELOW: Up to 500-million Marriott customers’ data accessed in cyberattack






Citizen Lab condemned the alleged operations against Razzak and Scott-Railton in a statement last month, after Scott-Railton met with the suspected spy.

“This failed operation against two Citizen Lab researchers is a new low,” Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert wrote on Jan. 25. “We have always welcomed debate and dialogue about our work, but we condemn these sinister, underhanded activities in the strongest possible terms.”

Deibert added that he has “no evidence” that NSO Group itself is responsible for the incidents.

How NSO’s phone-hacking Pegasus spyware works

Pegasus is an extremely powerful spyware program that installs itself on a phone after the target is tricked into clicking a text-message link. It’s designed to let police covertly examine everything on a target’s phone, according to an in-depth technical analysis of the program by Lookout, a California-based cybersecurity company. The analysis was conducted in partnership with Citizen Lab.

Pegasus effectively turns the target’s phone into an open book. The spyware operator can access anything connected to the phone, and can even switch on its microphones and cameras to turn it into a remote surveillance device. The only way to avoid infection is to avoid clicking on text-message links.

This diagram shows all the systems an operator can access by infecting someone’s phone with Pegasus spyware.

Citizen Lab

“The Pegasus software is highly configurable,” the Lookout report says. “Depending on the country of use and feature sets purchased by the user of the spyware, the surveillance capabilities include remotely accessing text messages, iMessages, calls, emails, logs, and more from apps including Gmail, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facetime, Calendar, Line, Mail.Ru, WeChat, Surespot, Tango, Telegram, and others.”

Citizen Lab and Lookout worked with Apple in 2016 to help it fix an iOS vulnerability that Pegasus appeared to exploit. Citizen Lab says it discovered Pegasus exploiting the vulnerability on a phone belonging to Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates. NSO continued to sell the product to the UAE government long after Apple said it fixed the patch, the New York Times reports.


READ MORE:
iPhone security update prompted by spyware discovery

NSO Group says the tool has helped foil terror plots in Europe, allegedly contributed to the capture of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and led to the arrest of many dangerous criminals and child sex traffickers.

NSO Group has not publicly revealed the names of its current clients. However, its software is not unique. Several companies, including Italy’s Hacking Team and Germany’s FinFisher, have developed technology to help law enforcement crack suspects’ phones.

Many countries, including Canada, have legal provisions that allow for “lawful interception” of certain communications in serious criminal cases. Canadian police need a warrant or a judge’s authorization to use such extreme measures, according to the Department of Justice.

WATCH BELOW: What to do if your email gets hacked






However, Citizen Lab says the Pegasus software has been deployed against unwarranted political targets, such as journalists and activists.

Amnesty International has also accused NSO Group of releasing its technology to an entity that targeted one of Amnesty’s staffers. The human rights group has called for Israel to revoke NSO Group’s export licence, which would effectively kill all of its contracts with foreign governments.

What is NSO Group?

NSO Group is an Israeli cybersecurity firm that specializes in hacking smartphones. Its headquarters are in Luxembourg and its offices are in Herzelia, near Tel Aviv in Israel. The company has between 500 and 1,000 employees, according to its LinkedIn page.

The group claims on its website that its technology is used “exclusively by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight crime and terror.”

NSO Group’s co-founders, Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie, re-acquired a majority ownership stake in the company on Thursday, in a deal that reportedly valued the company at US$1 billion. Francisco Partners, a U.S.-based private equity firm that previously owned 70 per cent of the company, announced the sale in a news release.

NSO Group sells licences to its software through an export licence approved by the Israeli government. It has dozens of licensed customers and earned $250 million in revenue last year, Francisco Partners said.

Hulio and Lavie founded NSO Group in 2010 and have been with the company ever since, serving as its CEO and director, respectively.

WATCH BELOW: Canadian cybersecurity officials outline plans to protect 2019 election






NSO Group has denied all allegations that suggest its software has been used improperly. It insists its product is meant to be used exclusively to prevent crime and terrorism.

“Any use of our technology that is counter to that purpose is a violation of our policies, legal contracts, and the values that we stand for as a company,” NSO Group said in a written statement to Amnesty International last August. The statement was issued after Amnesty claimed one of its members was spied on using NSO software.

NSO Group has signed several lucrative contracts with foreign governments, including multi-million-dollar deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to reports in the New York Times and Haaretz, an Israeli daily newspaper.

Khashoggi friend allegedly hacked

One of the three lawsuits against NSO was filed in Israel on behalf of Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, a permanent resident of Canada living near Montreal. Abdulaziz alleges that Pegasus software was used to monitor his conversations with Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, shortly before Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

WATCH BELOW: Omar Abdulaziz says he was targeted by Saudi Arabia






Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor-turned whistleblower, has also suggested that Abdulaziz’s hacked phone may have contributed to the death of Khashoggi, citing an analysis by Citizen Lab.

“The reality is that they bugged one of his few friends and contacts using software created by an Israeli company,” Snowden told an audience in Tel Aviv via video link last November.

Citizen Lab published a report about Abdulaziz’s hacked phone on Oct. 1, one day before Khashoggi was killed. The Citizen Lab researchers concluded with “high confidence” that the breach was caused by NSO’s Pegasus spyware.


READ MORE:
Saudi Arabia used controversial spyware to monitor Canada-based political refugee: report

NSO Group disputed some details in Abdulaziz’s lawsuit in a written statement to the Times of Israel in December. The company said the lawsuit “appears to be based on a collection of press clippings that have been generated for the sole purpose of creating news headlines and do not reflect the reality of NSO’s work.”

NSO Group CEO Shulev Hulio says the company looked into the allegations and concluded that its software was not involved in Khashoggi’s murder.


READ MORE:
Jamal Khashoggi’s friend sues Israeli surveillance company, saying it helped track journalist

“Khashoggi was not targeted by any NSO product or technology, including listening, monitoring, location tracking and intelligence collection,” he told Yedioth Ahronoth, a Hebrew-language daily, in an interview last month. The interview was translated by Yedioth Ahronoth’s English-language sister site, Ynetnews.

He added that the company immediately sanctions any customer that is found to be using its software for anything other than saving lives and thwarting crime or terrorism.

WATCH BELOW: What we know about Khashoggi’s murder






NSO has also denied any connection to the individuals who contacted Abdulaziz’s lawyers or Scott-Railton and Razzak at Citizen Lab.

Scott-Railton says the whole situation is shining some much-needed light on the highly secretive and extremely lucrative business of military-grade spyware.

“The problem is, this industry operates in the shadows, and not everything that happens there is just about catching bad guys,” he said.

“Sending private spies to go after academics is a tactic you might use if you have something to hide.”

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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