According to a report by the New York Times, Israel secretly authorized Israeli cyber companies to work for the government of Saudi Arabia. According to the report, official sources in Israel told the New York Times that following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, the Israeli company NSO cancelled its contracts with Saudi Arabia amid accusations that its surveillance software was used for malicious purposes.
The report said that NSO sold Pegasus, one of the company's well-known tools, to Saudi Arabia in 2017. The New York Times was not able to prove that the tool was used improperly in the case of Khashoggi or in other cases. NSO denies that its tools are used to violate human rights.
According to the report, the Israeli Defense Ministry also authorized the Candiru company to sell its software to Saudi Arabia. Last week, Microsoft accused the company of helping governments spy on more than 100 journalists, politicians, dissidents and human rights activists. Candiru signed at least one contract with Saudi Arabia since 2018, said the report.
The report said that export licenses were also given to companies Quadream, Verint and Cellbrite, and that the Defense Ministry claims that it would revoke the export license of any Israeli company whose software is used for violating human rights.
In addition, the New York Times reported that the Israeli government and the Trump administration encouraged NSO to operate in Saudi Arabia, but in 2018 the company cancelled its contracts with the government. Several months afterward, Britain's Novalpina private equity firm bought NSO and continued to do business with Saudi Arabia.
Verint, Candiru and Quadream declined to comment on the report by the New York Times.