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US foreign policy

US blacklists Israel's NSO, Candiru for spyware undermining national security

“NSO Group is dismayed by the decision, given that our technologies support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime, and thus we will advocate for this decision to be reversed,” a spokesperson said.

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The US said Wednesday that it had blacklisted Israel’s NSO and Candiru for selling spyware to foreign governments that “maliciously” targeted government officials and journalists.

Over the summer, a global investigation showed that the Israeli-NSO licensed Pegasus spyware was used to hack the smartphones of prominent foreign officials, journalists, and human rights activists.

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NSO rejected the reports and claimed “uncorroborated theories.”

On Wednesday, following the US decision, NSO again said it was innocent.

“NSO Group is dismayed by the decision, given that our technologies support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime, and thus we will advocate for this decision to be reversed,” an NSO spokesperson was quoted as telling AFP.

But the US was quick to note that it was not taking action against countries or governments where the companies were located.

“NSO Group and Candiru were added to the Entity List based on a determination that they developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used this tool to maliciously target government officials, journalists, business people, activists, academics, and embassy workers,” the US said.

Wednesday’s decision by the US means that the companies undermined US national security and foreign policy interests. It also makes exports to these companies by US counterparts are restricted.

Two other companies, Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE (COSEINC) and Positive Technologies, were also added to the Entity List.

These two companies are in Singapore and Russia, respectively.

Read more: France's Macron changes phone in light of Pegasus case, Israel eyes changes