Spyware firm buyout reaffirms urgent need for justice for targeted activists

Novalpina Capital, the private equity firm that has supported NSO Group management to acquire the company from Francisco Partners, must immediately disclose how it plans to prevent further human rights abuses by NSO Group, which has been linked to several chilling attacks on human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

In an open letter released today, the organization and six other NGOs urged Novalpina to publicly commit to accountability for NSO Group’s past spyware abuses, including the targeting of an Amnesty International employee and the alleged targeting of Jamal Khashoggi.

Novalpina’s executives have serious questions to answer about their involvement with a company which has become the go-to surveillance tool for abusive governments.
Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech

Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said:

“Novalpina’s executives have serious questions to answer about their involvement with a company which has become the go-to surveillance tool for abusive governments. This sale comes in the wake of reports that NSO paid private operatives to physically intimidate individuals trying to investigate its role in attacks on human rights defenders – further proof that NSO is an extremely dangerous entity.

“We are calling on Novalpina to confirm an immediate end to the sale or further maintenance of NSO products to governments which have been accused of using surveillance to violate human rights. It must also be completely transparent about its plans to prevent further abuses.

“This could be an opportunity to finally hold NSO Group to account. Novalpina must commit to fully engaging with investigations into past abuses of NSO’s spyware, and ensure that neither NSO Group nor its previous owners, Francisco Partners, are let off the hook.”

The signatories to the letter are:

Amnesty International

R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales

Privacy International

Access Now

Human Rights Watch

Reporters Without Borders

Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, NYU School of Law and Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law*

*Communications from NYU clinics and institutes do not purport to reflect the school's institutional views, if any.

Background

Research has documented the use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to target civil society, all over the world, including at least 24 human rights defenders, journalists and parliamentarians in Mexico, an Amnesty International employee, Omar Abdulaziz, Yahya Assiri, Ghanem Al-Masarir, award-winning human rights campaigner Ahmed Mansoor, and the alleged targeting of Jamal Khashoggi.