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UK arms fair set to host controversial Israeli spyware company linked to Khashoggi spying

The Israeli spyware company has been linked to several high-profile hacks. [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 February, 2020

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NSO returned to the spotlight last month after it was accused of supplying the software that enabled Saudi Arabia to allegedly hack Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' phone.

The UK government will reportedly host the controversial Israeli NSO spyware company at an arms trade fair scheduled for next month, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

NSO returned to the spotlight last month after it was accused of supplying the software that enabled Saudi Arabia to allegedly hack Amazon chief Jeff Bezos' phone.

The Israeli software company has for years fought accusations of supplying its Pegasus spyware to authoritarian governments who have used it to hack dissidents' phones.

The company will market its surveillance technologies at the secretive Security and Policy trade fair scheduled for March in Hampshire, The Guardian reported.

The event, organised by the Home Office in coordination with the government's arms sales unit, has in the past hosted repressive regimes such as Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

The identities of this year's delegations will be announced on the opening day of the fair, scheduled for 3 March at the Farnborough Airport Exhibition Centre.

Read more: 'Dangerous weapon': Amnesty demands Israel rein in shadowy NSO spyware company

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The NSO Group has previously attended the arms fair.

There are at least three cases of NSO spyware being used against UK residents, most notably Saudi dissident satirist Ghanem Almasarir.

Last year, he accused Riyadh of using Pegasus to hack his phone. A UK court earlier in January ruled that Almasrari could sue the kingdom over the claims.

Earlier this year, the FBI said it was investigating the alleged role of the NSO Group in possible hacks on American residents, companies and officials, Reuters reported.

The spyware has been implicated in the gruesome killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

The spyware has also allegedly been used to target Emirati and Moroccan dissidents, in addition to journalists, civil society activists and government critics in Mexico and a number of other countries.

"NSO Group's chilling spyware has put the lives of human rights activists around the world in danger," Amnesty International said this year.

"They are the most dangerous cyber weapon that we know of and they're not being properly overseen."

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