Report Exposed Israeli Tools Used to Target Journalists and Elected Officials in 10 Countries

Per research published by the Canadian-based internet watchdog Citizen Lab on  April 11, 2023, the hacking tools of an Israeli firm were recently employed against non-profit organizations, opposition figures, and journalists across 10 nations, ranging from the US and EU nations to countries in Central Asia and the Middle East.

QuaDream Ltd, an Israeli surveillance company, was the entity responsible for developing the hacking tools.  According to a report by The Cradle, QuaDream Ltd is the chief competitor of Israeli spyware company NSO Group, which the US and EU governments have blacklisted. The Israeli company’s hacking utilities were apparently used to target the various individuals’ phones. On top of that, additional reports pointed to the devices being hacked in Bulgaria, Israel, Mexico, Singapore, and the UAE.  

 Amy Hogan-Burney, Microsoft’s Associate General Counsel, asserted that QuaDream thrives “in the shadows,” and that publicly exposing and criticizing it is essential to preventing its pernicious activity. 

 Lawyer Vibeke Dank, an Israeli national whose email was listed on QuaDream’s registration form, was  questioned about the hacking tools. However, he did not issue a response to any of the claims made against the surveillance company.

Neither Citizen Lab nor Microsoft listed out the targets of QuaDream’s software. However, the allegation could hurt QuaDream’s image. Earlier in April, the New York Times (NYT) exposed how the US government signed a contract for a powerful geolocation tool with the NSO Group on November 8, 2021. The US government consummated this deal despite blacklisting the Israeli firm over its allegedly abusive behavior on a previous occasion. 

The NYT says the secret contract remains in effect and does not specifically list which federal agency received the spyware known as Landmark. 

A US front company designated “Cleopatra Holdings”, which was actually a New Jersey-based government contract called Riva Networks, was used to buy Landmark. In 2019, the same company was used by the FBI to buy Pegasus spyware. The NSO group also develops this spyware. 

The company’s Pegasus spyware has been allegedly used by multiple governments against clergy members, diplomats, journalists, and protestors. These countries include Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Israel’s use of spyware is one of many activities that should make the US question its relationship with the country. Israel is a chaos agent that should be shunned by all respectable nations when it comes to economic and military aid. Hopefully, multipolarity will be able to rein Israel in. 

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