Spain’s High Court halts Pegasus hacking probe due to Israeli non-cooperation

(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — In a court statement released on Monday, Spain’s High Court has shelved the investigation on the alleged hacking of ministers’ phones with Pegasus spyware, a zero-click mobile surveillance software designed to infiltrate iOS and Android devices, developed by Israeli NSO Group over a “complete” lack of cooperation from Israel. اضافة اعلان

The investigation was launched in May 2022 after the Spanish government said the program infiltrated the mobile phones of high-ranking officials to spy on them, Almayadeen reported. According to the report, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Defense Minister Margarita Robles, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and Agriculture Minister Luis Planas are among the politicians whose phones have been contaminated by the program.

Responsibility on an external attack
Spanish authorities are still unsure of who was behind the attacks, although, they placed the responsibility on an external attack. Meanwhile, Spanish media made a possible connection that Morocco could have been responsible for the attack as the phones were tapped during the height of the conflict between both countries.

In June 2022, a formal request for international judicial assistance was filed by Spanish judge, Jose Luis Calama to the Israeli government, requesting information about the software as well as an in-person meeting with the chief executive of NSO, Amad reported.

Israel has not responded to Spain’s inquiries
According to the court, an inquiry had been sent four times to Israel for its involvement with no response. The court concluded that all that remains possible now is a possible diplomatic channel capable of promoting compliance between both countries with obligations derived from international treaties.

What is Pegasus?
Pegasus, which was captured by researchers in 2016, infects phones through what is called spear-phishing by tracking text messages or emails that trick a target into clicking on a malicious link. The program, which was allegedly developed by the Israeli NSO Group to combat terror and crime, has not been without controversary, The Guardian reported.

The software has been deployed as a cyber weapon with espionage attacks on political figures, well-known journalists, and other civil society leaders. As zero-click spyware, it can be installed on a target’s phone without the victim needing to take any action themselves. 

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