Illustration
Illustration Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

There is no evidence that the Israel Police used NSO’s Pegasus spyware to spy on civilians without approval from a judge, a team led by Deputy Attorney General Amit Merari said on Monday evening.

The probe was ordered following last month’s report in the Calcalist newspaper which said that the Israel Police had been using the highly controversial Pegasus spyware system to hack into phones belonging to regular Israeli citizens.

“The technological probe showed that there was no indication that the Israel Police used the Pegasus system without a judicial warrant to hack into the cellphones of any of the people on the list published in the media,” the team said in its report.

“Furthermore,” it added, “based on probes into every case where the information extracted from the system allowed it, no indication of hacking attempts were found.”

Merari’s team was assisted in its probe by technological experts from the Mossad and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). The probe analyzed information from police logs and received access to NSO’s internal system.

The team said it also probed another system that came into use recently by the Israel Police and said that in this case, as well, there was no indication that attempts were made to illegally hack the mobile phones of any of the people whose names were mentioned in the Calcalist report.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev responded to the findings of the probe and said, "As I claimed from the beginning, the investigation team headed by Deputy Attorney General Amit Merari concluded that 'there is no indication that the Israel Police hacked phones using Pegasus without a court order,' and this is a resounding acquittal for the Israel Police and the people in uniforms."

He added, "Today there are many factors who need to bow their heads and apologize to the officers of the Israel Police and their families - over 30,000 women and men whose names have been smeared on every stage in recent weeks. I repeat what I said the entire time – as Minister of Public Security I am committed to ensuring the proper activity of the police, but also to restoring trust in it, which has been severely damaged. Together we will preserve democracy. Together we will defend the country."

The Calcalist newspaper said in response to the findings, "The findings of the interim report of the investigation team headed by Deputy Attorney General Amit Merari require serious consideration and re-examination of the findings and allegations we published in Calcalist, and this will be done. Due to the short time that passed between the date of publication of the interim report last night and the time the newspaper went to print, such an examination has not yet been done. When we conclude it, we will not hesitate to correct as much as necessary."