Israel: Court decides to hear case against NSO behind closed doors

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.
Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech.

Responding to a decision by Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday to close the doors of the hearing of a legal action seeking to revoke the export licence of spyware firm NSO Group, 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, 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.”

Background

On Thursday, a judge at Tel Aviv’s District Court begin hearing arguments as to why Israel’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) should revoke the export licence of NSO Group. The firm’s Pegasus software has been used to target journalists and activists across the globe – including in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. 

At the start of Thursday’s hearing the judge granted a request from the Ministry of Defence for a gag order on national security grounds.

The legal action seeking to force Israel’s Ministry of Defence to revoke NSO Group’s export licence is being brought by approximately 30 members and supporters of Amnesty International Israel and others from the human rights community. The action is supported by Amnesty International as part of a joint project with New York University School of Law’s Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and Global Justice Clinic.