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German journalist groups demand action against Israeli spy software

Firm accused of supplying spyware software to governments for spying on journalists, activists and others

Oliver Towfigh Nia   | 19.07.2021
German journalist groups demand action against Israeli spy software

BERLIN

German journalist associations on Monday demanded clarification and counter-measures in the wake of revelations about the use of an Israeli-made spying software against activists and reporters.

Speaking of the "unprecedented surveillance scandal," Frank Ueberall, the chairman of the Berlin-based German Federation of Journalists (DJV), in a statement said authorities would have to clarify if the notorious Pegasus software from the Israeli company NSO has also been used against German journalists.

The Israeli firm accused of supplying spyware to governments has been linked to a list of tens of thousands of smartphone numbers, including those of activists, journalists, business executives, and politicians around the world.

The NSO Group and its Pegasus malware – capable of switching on a phone’s camera or microphone, and harvesting its data – have been in the headlines since 2016, when researchers accused it of helping spy on a dissident in the UAE.

Meanwhile, Monique Hofmann, the chairwoman of the German Union of Journalists (dju), called for restrictions on the export of surveillance technology.

"Authoritarian states use Pegasus to silence critical and opposition voices. Spy software must not be supplied to countries in which human rights are repeatedly violated," she said.

Working with new data from the journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and human rights group Amnesty International, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, and 16 media partners around the world worked to uncover who might have fallen victim to Pegasus, and tell their stories.

The NSO claims the software was "only sold to law enforcement agencies and secret services of audited governments with the sole aim of saving human lives by preventing crimes and acts of terrorism."

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