Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief: Pegasus leaks show nobody is safe from espionage (E1033)
In this episode of Going Underground, we speak to WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson. He discusses the leaks that showed some 50,000 people are potential targets of the Pegasus spyware that has been sold to governments around the world by NSO, an Israeli company, and the inescapable global surveillance apparatus that has now become privatized. He also discusses Julian Assange’s US extradition case, slamming the ongoing detention of the WikiLeaks founder despite a key witness in the case admitting to lying.
Next, we speak to Professor Richard Murphy, co-founder of the Tax Justice Network. He claims UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is “rotten to the core,” having faced numerous accusations of corruption throughout the pandemic, and why Johnson’s decision to lift nearly all coronavirus restrictions will prove to be a catastrophic mistake. He goes on to discuss why the Treasury Committee exonerated David Cameron for lobbying on behalf of Greensill Capital, and explains why he believes it was a strategic decision to protect the former prime minister. Finally, he talks about the controversial appointment of a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club to a key oversight position on the government’s sleaze watchdog, and why the UK has become one of the world’s most lucrative tax havens.
Statement from NSO:
“It is no surprise that this story has a splashy headline. When reading the story, readers quickly learn that there is no link between the 50,000 numbers to NSO Group or Pegasus.
“In fact, even the Washington Post’s editor stated that “the purpose of the list could not be conclusively determined” and the list does not identify who puts the numbers on it or why. The report itself stated that “it is unknown how many of the phones were targeted or surveilled”.
“Then the readers learn that the actual story is built around 37 of the 50,000 phone numbers, and even for those 37 - the reporters fail to prove a definitive link between the numbers and NSO.
“This list is an equivalent of opening the WhitePages, choosing randomly 50,000 numbers, and drawing headlines from it.
“The story has been flimsy from the beginning. When editors contacted NSO Group last week after spending months researching rumors and innuendos, the claim was even more sensational, not to mention imaginary. They originally claimed that the 50,000 numbers were found on an NSO server. After realizing that it’s impossible, since Pegasus has never been licensed that many numbers, and because NSO servers do not have such kind of data, the editors quickly turned their story into a massive ‘what if’, only not to ruin a good headline.
“Now the new claim is that these 50,000 numbers exist on an unfamiliar list with no ties whatsoever to NSO. Yet, somehow, the editors decided to run with this story, even after it became clear that their unidentified sources had misled them, most likely intentionally.
“Finally, instead of admitting that there is no massive plot, the editors and reporters are intentionally misleading readers using twists and turns to distract from that elusive term – “the truth”.
“As NSO has previously stated, our technology was not associated in any way with the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi. We can confirm that our technology was not used to listen, monitor, track, or collect information regarding him or his family members mentioned in your inquiry. We previously investigated this claim, which again, is being made without validation.
“We also stand by our previous statements that our products, sold to vetted foreign governments, cannot be used to conduct cybersurveillance within the United States, and no foreign customer has ever been granted technology that would enable them to access phones with U.S. numbers. It is technologically impossible and reaffirms the fact that your sources claim have no merit.
“Notwithstanding the above, NSO Group will continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action based on the results of these investigations. This includes shutting down of a customers’ system, something NSO has proven its ability and willingness to do, due to confirmed misuse, has done multiple times in the past, and will not hesitate to do again if a situation warrants.
“NSO Group’s technologies have helped prevent terror attacks, gun violence, car explosions and suicide bombings. The technologies are also being used every day to break up pedophilia, sex, and drug-trafficking rings, locate missing and kidnapped children, locate survivors trapped under collapsed buildings, and protect airspace against disruptive penetration by dangerous drones. Simply put, NSO Group is on a life-saving mission, and the company will faithfully execute this mission undeterred, despite any and all continued attempts to discredit it on false grounds.”