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F.B.I. Told Israel It Wanted Pegasus Hacking Tool for Investigations


Pegasus is produced by an Israeli firm, NSO Group, which needs to gain approval from the Israeli government before it can sell the hacking tool to a foreign government.

Credit: Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The F.B.I. informed the Israeli government in a 2018 letter that it had purchased Pegasus, the notorious hacking tool, to collect data from mobile phones to aid ongoing investigations, the clearest documentary evidence to date that the bureau weighed using the spyware as a tool of law enforcement.

The F.B.I.'s description of its intended use of Pegasus came in a letter from a top F.B.I. official to Israel's Ministry of Defense that was reviewed by The New York Times. Pegasus is produced by an Israeli firm, NSO Group, which needs to gain approval from the Israeli government before it can sell the hacking tool to a foreign government.

The 2018 letter, written by an official in the F.B.I.'s operational technology division, stated that the bureau intended to use Pegasus "for the collection of data from mobile devices for the prevention and investigation of crimes and terrorism, in compliance with privacy and national security laws."

The Times revealed in January that the F.B.I. had purchased Pegasus in 2018 and, over the next two years, tested the spyware at a secret facility in New Jersey.

From The New York Times
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