Report: Israel police used spyware on Netanyahu’s son, aides – The Associated Press – en Español

Report: Israel police used spyware on Netanyahu’s son, aides – The Associated Press – en Español

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police illegally spied on the phones of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son and members of his inner circle, a local newspaper reported Monday. The report prompted a high-level investigation and threw the former leader’s corruption trial into disarray.

Netanyahu demanded a “strong and independent investigation” into the alleged police misuse of sophisticated spyware against him, calling it a “black day for Israel” as proceedings in his trial were put on hold.

Israeli business newspaper Calcalist has published a series of recent reports alleging that police used the NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus spyware to hack the phones of protesters and other Israeli citizens without a warrant, prompting condemnation from across the political spectrum. Pegasus has been linked to numerous human rights abuses around the world.

Monday’s report claimed that Pegasus had become “one of the most used tools for intelligence collection in the hands of the police” and had been used against politicians, protesters, business moguls, ministry directors and Netanyahu’s close advisers and son. Like previous reports, the paper cited no sources, but for the first time named people allegedly surveilled by the police.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the allegations, if true, are “very serious.” Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who oversees the nation’s police force, announced the formation of a government commission of inquiry headed by a retired judge to “investigate in depth the violation of civil rights and privacy in the years in question.” He said the alleged violations appear to have been carried out under former officials in previous governments.

Israel’s previous police chief, Roni Alsheikh, who was in command during much of the alleged snooping, has declined to comment on the matter.

Calcalist said the police used spyware against a phone registered to Netanyahu’s son, Avner, as well as two communications advisers and the wife of another defendant in one of three corruption cases against the former leader.

The allegations could also undermine Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial, after reports that police used spyware to surveil a key witness.

They are among several prominent figures to have been targeted with spyware, including business leaders, former directors of Cabinet ministries and mayors, Calcalist reported. It said the organizers of demonstrations on behalf of disabled people and Israel’s Ethiopian minority were also targeted.

Barlev’s investigation follows announcements by Israeli police and the attorney general’s office that they would investigate. Last week, …….