Israel: gagging order in NSO Group legal case condemned

NSO Group's offices in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv © JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Tel Aviv court agrees to Israel defence ministry’s request for secret process

‘NSO Group’s chilling spyware has put the lives of human rights activists around the world in danger’ - Danna Ingleton

Responding to a decision by Tel Aviv District Court today to make a legal challenge to the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group a closed-door hearing following a request from the Ministry of Defence for a gagging order on national security grounds, Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said: 

“Israel’s Ministry of Defence has once again sought to avoid the full glare of public scrutiny. 

“NSO Group’s chilling spyware has put the lives of human rights activists around the world in danger. 

“There remains a clear public interest for this case to be heard in open court and we remain hopeful that information about the hearing will be shared with the public.

“The cosy complicity between governments and the shadowy surveillance industry has to end. We will continue to make every effort to ensure NSO Group’s invasive products can no longer be used to commit human rights abuses around the world.”

Gil Naveh, a spokesperson for Amnesty International Israel, added: 

“Unfortunately, this has become almost routine practice on cases linked to surveillance, but spyware firms must not be above scrutiny, including when there is widespread evidence of misuse. NSO’s practices have been covered globally and the public shouldn’t now be kept in the dark. We will carefully consider the court’s ruling on the case and consider our following steps.” 

Legal case

Earlier today, a judge at Tel Aviv District Court began hearing arguments over why Israel’s Ministry of Defence should revoke the export licence of NSO Group following revelations concerning the Israeli tech firm’s Pegasus spyware. 

The legal action - being brought by Amnesty International Israel and others - comes after evidence has emerged showing how Pegasus software has been used to target numerous journalists and activists, including in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and the UAE. The legal case is supported by Amnesty as part of a joint project with New York University School of Law’s Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and the Global Justice Clinic. 

Today’s hearing is the latest legal action involving NSO Group. Last October, Facebook announced it was suing the firm after it exploited a vulnerability in the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging service to target at least 100 human rights defenders. 

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