Am 12. Juli traf sich der Ausschuss, um sich über Israel und Staatstrojaner auszutauschen. Das Treffen diente außerdem zur Vorbereitung der Reise des Ausschusses nach Israel.
Von der Anhörung gibt es ein Video, aber kein offizielles Transkript. Daher veröffentlichen wir ein inoffizielles Transkript.
- Date: 2022-07-12
- Institution: European Parliament
- Committee: PEGA
- Chair: Jeroen Lenaers
- Experts: Marwa Fatafta (MENA Policy Manager AccessNow), Mona Shtaya (Advisor at 7amleh, Arab Center for the advancement of Social Media), Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer, representing HCLU in its court case against NSO)
- Links: Hearing, Video
- Note: This transcript is automated and unofficial, it will contain errors.
- Editor: Julien Schat
Israel and Spyware
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Okay, colleagues, it’s 3.10. So if everybody could take their seats, we could start the meeting somewhat on time still. Thank you. Thank you all very much and good afternoon. Welcome to all the full list of members of the committee. We will have interpretation today for the following languages. German, English, French, Italian, Dutch, Greek, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Slovakian, Slovenian, Bulgarian and Romanian. Unless there are any objections to the agenda, I consider it adopted. And I move immediately to the main point of our hearing today, which is the hearing on Israel and spyware. And of course, the committee will travel to Israel next week with the purpose, not only, of course, to visit NSO, but also to better understand the export authorisation procedure, but also many other aspects relating to Israel in our mandate. We also have to understand how the use of spyware in general affects civil society and also how this links to the external dimension of EU policy. Now for these points on the agenda, we will have the great pleasure to hear from three distinguished guests today, Mrs. Marwa Fatafta, who is the Middle East and North Africa policy manager for Access Now, which is dedicated to defending and extending digital rights of users at risk around the world. We will hear from Mrs. Mona Shtaya, who is advisor at seven, the Arab Centre for Advancement of Social Media. And we will hear from Mr. Eitay Mack, who is a human rights lawyer representing ACLU in its court case against NSO. I will give the floor to each of our guests who are remotely connected for 10 minutes each. And then I’ll open up the floor for questions and answers. If we manage with the time, I would like to stick to the ping pong system. If I notice that we are running out of time, we might have to collect some questions at some point during the hearing. But in order to lose, not any time with introductions, I immediately pass the floor to our first guest who is remotely connected, Mrs. Marwa Fatafta from AccessNow, you have the floor for 10 minutes.
Translator: The interpreters are taking industrial action and will not interpret remote interventions due to the potential effects on our health of substandard sound and the failure to adopt working conditions from remote participation.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Nobody’s talking for now.
Assistant: Madame Fatafta, please press on this button at the bottom of your page. One stink. You.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Okay. Well, in that case. Just 1 second, Madam Fatafta, because then indeed there is then an issue with the interpretation, meaning that because of the working conditions of the interpreters there there is a period of action, which means that they will interpret the people that are speaking in the room so we can all speak in our mother tongue. But guests who are connected remotely will not be interpreted. This is this is very problematic. It’s not only related to our committee, but it’s horizontally applied in the European Parliament. The only choice we have is to accept it and work under these conditions or to cancel the meetings. And in this instance, I would very much prefer to continue our meeting because we have only limited time available for meetings and see if we can find other solutions, whether there’s possibilities for assistance or advisors to help out with those members who have trouble understanding the English directly. But at least all the questions in the room, all the things that we say as members in this room will be interpreted. We just have to listen to the contributions of our guests who are remotely connected in English. I hope that is not a problem for the majority of the committee. And having said that, I pass the floor to you, Madam Fatafta.
Marwa Fatafta (AccessNow): And thank you very much for the invitation to speak before you today. I’ll try my best to speak as slowly as possible, given the technical challenge. My name is Maria Fatafta. I work at Access now. We are a digital rights organisation whose mission is to defend and extend the digital rights of users at risk around the world. I’m also a Palestinian national residing in Germany and I have been researching the Israeli surveillance industry close to a decade now. And I especially thank this committee for dedicating this hearing session on Israel on spyware, since we cannot discuss the proliferation of Israeli spyware and surveillance tech without understanding the genesis of such technologies. But first, I would like to begin by refuting one of the biggest claims propagated by NSO group to justify its continuous facilitation of egregious human rights abuses around the world. A few weeks ago we heard NSO Group repeatedly claimed before this committee that its notorious spyware Pegasus is used to save lives, fight terrorism and crack down on criminal activity. Yet it failed to bring even one example where it was the case. So I figured it should be appropriate to share with you a few concrete examples of what NSO Group and its government clients dub as terrorists and criminals. In October last year, our partner organisation Frontline Defenders, revealed for the first time that six Palestinian human rights defenders were hacked using Pegasus, three of the six people whose devices were hacked to work at Palestinian civil society organisations that the Israeli government designated on October 19th, 2021 as a terrorist organisation under its anti-terrorism law of 2016. And according to an Israeli military order that ensued in November 2021. The groups designated are Adamu al-Haq, Defence for Children, Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committee’s Research Centre for Research and Development and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees. I should mention here that a number of these organisations have been funded and supported by the EU over the years, and despite the designation, the Israeli government to date has failed to provide substantive evidence to support its claims. One of those targeted with Pegasus is a French Palestinian lawyer and a human rights defender called Salah Hamoudi, who works for Old Ahmed, one of the designated groups and whose device was hacked with Pegasus in 2021. Salah has been held in administrative detention since March this year, where he has received no trial or charge. And a day after he was informed by frontline defenders that his phone was hacked, he was notified of the Israeli minister of Interior’s decision to revoke his permanent residency in Jerusalem and potentially deports him on the basis of his alleged breach of alliance to the state of Israel. The hacking of the Palestinian human rights defenders comes on the heels of decades long harassment campaigns by the Israeli authorities against these organisations, including intimidation, arbitrary. Detention of staff such as the case of Salah travel bans, office raids and confiscation of computers and office equipment. And I highly encourage this committee on its upcoming trip to Israel to meet with a designated and targeted Palestinian human rights organisations in order to better understand that surveillance using pixel spyware is not the a hacking of a device under the pretext of preserving national security, as the NSO wants us to believe. But part and parcel of state repression against civil society organisations and human rights work and in the context of Israel-Palestine, hacking is not the only form of surveillance Palestinians are subjected to. In our everyday lives, we are exposed and surrounded by a web of surveillance technologies and tactics, from spyware to CCTV cameras, predictive policing programmes, drones, wiretapping to facial recognition and biometric surveillance technologies that are installed at military checkpoints, streets and public spaces within cities. And Israel has long maintained that its obligations to protect and promote human rights under international law do not extend to the territories it occupies. In the same token, Israel’s privacy and data protection laws and safeguards which have, by the way, granted the country and adequacy decision from the European Commission to allow for the free flow of personal data between the EU and Israel do not extend to Palestinians in the occupied territories who are ruled by a myriad of military orders. What this effectively means there are no rights for Palestinians, no oversight, no accountability, which created the perfect environment to successfully develop and germinates a secretive and exploitative multi-billion dollar cyber surveillance industry. I should emphasise here that NSO Group is not the only company and is not one single company that has gone rogue. It is, in fact the poster child of Israel’s surveillance industry, or even the global surveillance industry, which uses the occupied Palestinian territories as a laboratory to develop and field test spyware and repressive surveillance technologies. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, 80% of the 2300 people who founded Israel, 700 cybersecurity companies hail from military intelligence units who run, test and enhance their prototypes for military ends. And this intrusion of Palestinians privacy is so habitual that Israeli soldiers were reported to compete last year in capturing the most photographs of Palestinian men, women and children for prises such a day of duty. Soldiers were even reported not allowed to off shift until they had the photos of at least 50 Palestinians every day to an extensive biometric surveillance database, which Israel has built and dubbed as the Facebook of Palestinians. The database powers a disturbing and utopian facial recognition surveillance surveillance system called Wolf Blue Wolf, and which allows soldiers to capture photos of Palestinians faces on their smartphones and match them to this database. And upon identification, the app flashes in traffic lights, colours to alert soldiers if a person should be detained, arrested or left alone. There’s also reportedly a separate in a much larger database called Wolf Pack, which contains the profiles of virtually every Palestinian in the West Bank, their photographs, family histories, education and a security rating for each person. Now, I am fully conscious that this technology is not classified as spyware, but I’m bringing these examples with to share with you a glimpse into the Israeli surveillance ecosystem and its production pipeline, as evidenced by the mounting scandals of NSO group. Palestinians are not the only ones who pay the deer price for Israel’s unchecked surveillance power. And as illustrated by one former leader of Unit 200, which is spearheading the military industry in Israel and I quote many of the technologies in use around the world and developed in Israel were originally military technologies and were developed and improved by unit veterans. Another former soldier also explained who works in the surveillance industry. And I quote, We were trained to violate people’s privacy for a living, and then we were offered even more money to do it abroad. As such, the Israeli government is not only unwilling or unable to regulate its spyware industry, it’s actively promoting the exports of such technologies. For one, it’s a lucrative and rewarding sector, according to data from the Israeli. National Cyber Directorate. The number of funds raised by the Israeli cybersecurity industry tripled in comparison to 2020 and reached a record amount of approximately 8.8 billion USD. And the overall cyber exports where at 11 billion USD in 2021, under the green light of the Israeli Ministry of Defence, the Israeli surveillance companies have not hesitated to sell offensive capabilities and cyber weapons such as Pegasus to authoritarian countries with dismal human rights records such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, or even when it was revealed publicly that this equipment was used to hunt down human rights activists and journalists. Secondly, such tech has been also reported as used as a diplomatic card to fulfil foreign policy objectives. The New York Times, for instance, revealed that the operation of Pegasus was resumed for Saudi Arabia following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi after the prime minister’s office in Israel intervened directly with the company in exchange for allowing commercial Israeli flights to use the Saudi airspace. So it is no surprise then that the Israeli courts have repeatedly rejected petitions filed by human rights organisations and human rights. Israeli human rights lawyers, including my CO panellists today Eitay Mack to revoke the expert licence of NSO group and other surveillance industries and to come full circle. It is crucial not only to scrutinise the false narratives of Israeli spyware makers in which they claim that their technologies save lives, and whereby even human rights organisations are classified and targeted as terrorists. But it’s equally important to hold the Israeli government accountable for allowing such technologies to be developed, used and exported around the world. And in conclusion, as members of this committee prepare to visit Israel, I recommend that they speak to Palestinian activists and organisations who were targeted using Pegasus last year to meet with Israeli veterans who know the industry inside out and to take a close look at the entire surveillance industry pipeline from inception to exports, which stresses the urgent need for a global oversight and accountability over this exploitative and opaque, opaque industry. And while this is not an easy or a straightforward task, I believe the EU has a powerful tool in its hand to take immediate action against digital mercenaries and through its human rights sanctions regime. Entities such as NSO Group should not be allowed to enjoy its astronomical profits, while human rights activists and journalists live in fear and anxiety, are tortured and jailed for doing their breaking and much important work. And finally, I would like I would like to end by stressing a very important point that if the NSO group were to be dismantled tomorrow, there would be other spyware firms who are happy to fill in this gap. And that makes drives the point home that it’s really important for the EU to take leadership in enforcing a moratorium on the sale, use and transfer of surveillance technologies around the world until there is a human rights respecting system in place. Thank you very much again for offering me the floor and I’m happy to answer any questions you have.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Well, thank you very much for being with us on Fatafta and some very concrete recommendations there that I am sure will also lead to some questions. But well, first, listen to our two other panellists of today. So without further ado, I immediately passed the floor to Ms.. Mona Shtaya, who was the advisor at 7amleh the Arab Centre for Advancement of Social Media. You also have the floor for 10 minutes.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Thank you very much. I hope you can hear me. So this is what I stay on. The Advocacy Advisor of Hamlet at our Centre for the Advancement of Social Media, a Palestinian non-governmental organisation working systematically to protect Palestinian digital rights. Thanks for organising the session and for the committee’s work on the surveillance issue. This is such a crucial topic today for everyone around the world. But it’s very sensitive when it comes to Palestinians. Those who live under the surveillance state and its impact on their life and behaviour. Let me start with a short description of how Israeli created the modern panopticon and how that affects Palestinians. And then I will move forward to focus on the NSO source. And finally, I will conclude with our concrete recommendations to you and their session. Palestinians are subjected to a multilayered surveillance system where Israel aimed to threaten us, silence our voices, and increase the chilling effect as well as our self-censorship. This came as a result of the Israeli authorities control of the information and communication technology infrastructure, the ICT sector in Palestine, in the occupied Palestinian territory, according to the oath which embeds ise Palestinians of accessing safe, affordable and high quality internet, the designed panopticon is basically working when we walk in the streets where the CCTV cameras are put to securitise and militarise the public places. Recent research by our organisation Hamlet was published last year showed that women in East Jerusalem keep their hijab on their head inside their homes, which supposed to be their safe space just because they know and feel surveillance cameras then trade their homes. Over the past two years, ground breaking investigations and reports shows other forms of how Israel is developing and testing its surveillance technologies on Palestinians. One of those initiatives is the blue wall, which was developed when the whole world was immersed in the fight against the pandemic. It started in Hebron, a Palestinian city, and was used all over the West Bank after that. And it is a smart phone application powered by a massive database of Palestinian personal information. The database for this application draws from a larger database called Walls Back, which seeks to provide every Palestinian living in the West Bank without consent or permit. Each profile contains photographs, a family history and educational background, as well as a security rating. Earlier this year, a new report showed that the Israeli soldiers are ordered to enter their photos and details of of at least 50 Palestinians into the Israeli forces blue eyes tracking system over the course of each shift. And soldiers who failed to make the quota are forced to remain on duty until they do. As for our biggest fear, which brings us together today, in this session, the Israeli NSO group’s biggest was the spyware, which was used to hack the devices of six Palestinian human rights activists. The latest in a growing series of reports about human rights abuses linked to the use of NSO technology. One of them is the Palestinian French human rights lawyer, Salah Hamoudi, who was targeted by NSO spyware infiltrating Salah Hamoudi phone put on his client at risk and deprive them from attorney client privilege and the right to privacy. So the case was very special to the International Federation of Human Rights as IDF and the Human Rights League Eldad, which basically was filed compliant in France, targeting NSO Group for illegally infiltrating the phone of Salah Hamoudi, a violation that was initiated in Palestine and continued on a French soil which constitutes a violation of the right to privacy under French law and international human rights conventions. Fortunately, a few days ago, the French public prosecutor announced that they will open an investigation in Salah case. So as one of many Palestinians who faced systematic oppression by the Israeli authorities trying to oppress us, depriving depriving us of advocating for Palestinians rights and freedoms and excluding us from the international public arena. Over the past years, Israel has upheld, maintained and developed a policy of systematic censorship and surveillance against Palestinians. It has targeted our privacy and our personal data, harassed us, restricted us, criminalised us, and even suppressed our voices and our freedom of expression based on discriminatory legislations and using programmes such as Vegas’s. The surveillance state has not only developed its spyware through testing on Palestinians, but has approved spying technologies as a profitable business to expand internationally, undermining digital rights globally. And Israel has supplied a number of oppressive governments around the world with bogus spyware to use in spying on opponents, activists, citizens and diplomats suppressing and blackmailing them as well as violating their basic rights. However, earlier this year, it was revealed that the spyware has been used to target Israeli citizens themselves. We are aware that 60 European and these efforts who send about we are aware of the 60 European peace efforts who sent a joint letter to the EU foreign affairs chief Joseph Borrell, to express their concern about the Horizon Europe agreement with the State of Israel, which has an overall budget for 2021 to 2027 of €95.5 billion, as well as of this 86 civil society organisations and experts who sent an open letter to Joseph Borrell calling them to follow suit with the United States, which on 3rd of November 2021 added the Israeli based company to the US Department of Commerce blacklist for engaging in activities, activities that are contrary to the national security or all foreign policy interests of the United States, and have called on the European Commission to sanction NSO Group and prohibit the sale of the use of its spyware. Pegasus. That said, please allow me to conclude with our concrete recommendation to this committee and this session. First of all, we consider the decision of the US Department of Commerce issued in November 2021 to include NSO Group on its entities list of restricted commerce. And this is a step forward. Therefore, we stress on the 86 NGO and experts who launched a call in December 2021 on the European Commission to sanction NSO Group and prohibit the use, the sale and the use of its spyware. Pegasus. We call on the European Commission to rethink its in its announcement about not investigating Member States that use Pegasus spyware to target politicians, journalists and their families, as this puts the burden on victims to seek justice in their national courts. Further stalling access to remedy and putting an end to excessive surveillance by the state. It is crucial to make sure that EU countries stop the use of mingus’s spyware amongst other Israeli developed spyware, as with within the EU as this is basically developed and tested on Palestinians, including prohibiting and sanctioning the use of NSO groups, Pegasus spyware on the basis of violation, inter alia, a freedom of opinion and expression, right to privacy and liberty, all of which are imposed against activists and human rights defenders. We call on the Glu and we call on the global community to pressure Israel to enforce an immediate cease of all practises and policies that aim to intimidate and silence Palestinian activists, civil society organisations and human rights defenders as it violates our basic rights and rights and liberties. Last but not least, I highly encourage you to visit and speak with Palestinian human rights organisations during your visit to Israel next week so you can hear their personal experience. Know more about how Vegas, a spyware is affecting their life, their behaviour and even their work. If you have any question, please let me know. And thanks for listening and for consideration. Thanks a lot.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much Madam Shtaya for being with us today and for your interest and contribution. I move now to Mr. Eitay Mack. I do ask members who would like to take the floor in the Q&A to indicate their desire to do so. During the contribution of Mr. Muck so that we have a speakers list ready. Immediately afterwards. Thank you for that already. And immediately pass the floor to Mr. Mack, who is representing ACLU in their court case against and as it were, Mr. Muck, you also have the floor for 10 minutes.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): Thank you for inviting me for this important hearing. Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union define the guidelines of the EU Foreign Affairs Policy, which include the advancing in the wider world of democracy, the rule of law, the universality of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principle of equality and solidarity and respect for the principle of the UN Charter and international law. Surveillance systems like Pegasus are risking all of this EU policy not only in Palestine but all around the world. In Ruanda, in Aserbaidschan, in any country where there is a non-democratic regime and there is an attempt by democratic movement, by journalist, by opposition activists to change their fortune, to change their life. This type of system are trying to destabilise and to persecute this democratic movement worldwide. And the risk, the effect of stopping this movement all around the world. And this was the message of the US designation of NSO in its blacklist. And sadly, the EU didn’t join immediately the U.S. designation about NSO. You said that you’re going next week to Israel probably will meet a very respectful representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Ministry of Defence. They will come, with suit, maybe they will speak your language Hungarian, English, French, German, whatever. But the fatcs, if you ask them about the facts, the facts are embarassing. In Israel, there is zero accountability for this type of company. When we talk about the defence export, there is the unit in the Ministry of Defence. I just checked before hearing today they have three workes that have the oversight, they’re responsible on doing the oversight of about a more than 1000 companies, 300 independent workers in this field and also about 130 countries. Of course, three people cannot do that. The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, one a month ago at the hearing in which the head of the unit of export defence control came in, she was asked by the chairman of the Committee for National Affair and Security. What do you do say about the fact that never since the establishment of this committee, like 74 years ago there was not even one discussion about specific defence export deal to any specific country. And she just says Right. You’re right. And this is the policy. The Knesset is not doing any oversight about the defence export because the Ministry of Defence is afraid that the Knesset member who leaked information in one of my court hearing to cancel the export licence of NSO to Mexico in 2018, the Supreme Court judge many mazouz suggested the Minister of Defence that they we started doing hearing in the Knesset about it, and this will be instead of the hearing in the court and the Minister of Defence rejected this chance, this then because they don’t want the oversight of the Knesset a year they go in. In June 2021, the Supreme Court of Justice in the Court of Justice in Israel decided that it doesn’t have any more jurisdiction about the issue of defence export. This happened after 15 petition that they filed to defend their country not only about civilians but also about training in their rifles and machine guns that was sold to different country. So the court system in Israel. Stop doing any oversight. And also, they did vote in the decision that if I filed another petition, I could be getting a, I will have to pay fees for doing that. So the Knesset is not there. The court system is not. Do it when we talk about the Israeli media. Why the international media? Add the huge coverage about the Pegasus project in Israel. There was total silence. The only time that there was more interest in that was doing day, the publication that it was also used in Israel against the Israeli politician in the activist. On that it’s important to say that there that there are still. It was announced by the minister of justice after some preliminary investigation that they did that the publication in the Israeli media will not they actuate all the interest in the media and the Israeli public stopped it. So now what we stand in this point of time is that there’s no way Knesset investigation about the Pegasus story, not about the police use, not about the external use. There’s no governmental investigation about it. And why? It is because there’s no interest. Because Pegasus is important tool of the Israeli government. Never mind if it’s of the right or the left for diplomacy to buy votes in the UN. And this is the big risk. Also fully the member of the Parliament Union, even if you think that you could control what happened inside of the EU, as long as the Israeli companies are allowed to send a system to other countries, you could be under surveillance by other countries that want to affect the policy of the EU. It not only that there could be a possibility that another country that is afraid that the EU will put sanction on it. Will you be ready to pay a lot of money to another country that eyes the system and nothing to do the civilian fleet? And this is a huge problem. I’m not talking specifically about NSO. I talk about the general problem of how the deregulation in Israel goes. When we talk about NSO, NSO is not a private company. If we look on the facts, it’s a private company in its registration, but it’s totally a government entity. The Israeli government could stop the focus of NSO to walk in this company or another company by these really low of civil service, of retirement, of of new they. In 1969, the Ministry of Justice could cut the licence of NSO and then the company would collapse. But they will never do it because they need this company. Never mind who is the government. It when they when they what we could do about that. I think that the EU as a very important tool for many of these in one of it is that some of these companies as investors that they are a citizens of company registered in the EU. Some of these companies have self companies registered in the EU. This is their one course. Another cause is that they all this system will not be able to walk without the European countries also buying the Israeli surveillance system. Why? First, because the Israeli government is not giving anything for free. The European government ready to pay and these systems are very expensive. And second, because of the demand of these companies, in my opinion, the companies would not be able to operate without the workers of them knowing that they are also democratic countries that by the system this is the cover up to say today. And workers of the companies don’t whether you will not only sell into dictatorship, you only we also sell to democratic countries. And so if the European changed any of its policy, considering the surveillance system, it could have huge effect. So of course, we are not talking only about Israeli companies. They are also a probably Russian and Chinese and other companies. But the Israeli companies are still leading this this field in a very important in my position. I’m not saying to the opinion of the ACLU in my position there should be a total ban on this system, that the system of dependence of state Allah who in everything we think on the principle that that will recognise in international treaty by the EU, including about criminal justice, they demolish the presumption of innocent. They demolished the legal fountain of proof is on the prosecution. They demolished the right to silence. They demolish the right to avoid self-incrimination. They demolish everything we think about. They allowed the law enforcement and intelligence unit to do whatever they want. As the former chief of the Israeli police union, she said, except of making their children in cheeps, they are able to do anything. And I think that like the EU in their idea, the idea of a countries well able to think and to reconsider how they regulate in the sense of traditional weapons and traditionally arms. We should have the same a principle about the surveillance industry. It’s not different at all. Then you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much, Mr. Mack, and thank you also to all three speakers for their contributions to also for sticking to the times because it will help us to have a good amount of time for questions and answers now. I will start the round with our rapporteur Sophie in ’t Veld. Please.
Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Yes. Thank you, Chair, and thanks to our three speakers. A couple of brief and unrelated or questions that are not interrelated. First of all, you make reference all the time to the use of Pegasus spyware. Have you come across other spyware, for example, by Quadri, Khandelwal or Citrix, who all three are present in Israel as well? Second question are you familiar with somebody called Tal Dillian, the founder or the leader of Intelex? Third question about NSO. You mentioned that the US has taken the right stance by blacklisting NSO, but we noticed that there is a certain duplicity in the attitude of the United States because it’s true that the Department of Commerce has blacklisted NSO. But at the same time it seems that the Ministry of Defence or the Department of Defence has actually approved the use of NSO products, actually wanted to to buy it. So can you say a little bit more about that and also the fact that when they were blacklisted NSO that they they suffered a very steep drop in revenues, bringing them to the brink of of bankruptcy. What does that say about the company in your in your view? And then through final questions. NSO always claims that when they discover that a government is anti-democratic or abusing their products, that they will then withdraw the licence. But there would have been good reasons to do so in the case of, for example, Hungary, Poland and some other European governments that we have been discussing here, and yet they haven’t done so. Do you have any views on that? And then finally on your remark, and I’ve heard this before, that the Israeli government is is using this to buy support in the United Nations. We’ve heard this before, and apparently it’s been it’s been amply documented and demonstrated that there is a direct link between their to say, their licencing activity and their position in the United Nations. Can you say a little bit more about that? Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Since we have time, we will do direct answers to the questions and I will start in the same order as we had our guest speaking. So I will first pass the floor remotely to Ms.. Marwa Fatafta.
Marwa Fatafta (AccessNow): Thank you very much for your questions. Perhaps I can answer the first question asks about other Israeli companies. I think this is important to highlight. Of course, the NSO group is not the only Israeli company operating and as a result of its operation or sale of of of its spyware, is facilitating human rights abuses. Continue, for example, which by the way, was blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce together with NSO Group, was revealed in, in and targeting a number of activists and human rights defenders. Microsoft, for instance, made an investigation or found in its investigation that at least 100 victims in Palestine, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Spain, UK, Turkey, Armenia and Singapore have been targeted using its technology. And as I said, the victims include human rights defenders, dissidents, journalists, activists and politicians. And these technologies have been sold to a number of governments in the MENA region, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. And similar to NSO Group, with the exception of the blacklisting by the US Department of Commerce, are also not regulated and have not been held accountable for facilitating human rights abuses.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Shtaya.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Thanks for your question. Yeah, definitely. So those are other Israeli surveillance companies and those are like fast. Not all of them. As as I mentioned in my intervention, living under surveillance state means that you are facing surveillance all the time, whether it’s on your mobile phone or in the streets in the open places. And I because you mentioned that I went on and highlight and you a recent investigation was was published at the beginning of this year, which basically took about as also as this summer marked 15 years of for Gaza for being under siege. And that the new investigation report revealed that every mobile phone or every mobile device is going to enter Gaza Strip is basically and the Israelis are putting bugs into that. So like our mobile phones are and our devices are being spied on and surveilled all the time. And in these cases, we don’t know which spyware is are being used against Palestinians because it’s really hard to monitor and to keep on track and check every device that is entering Gaza Strip, as well as having same thing when it happens in the West Bank. So living under surveillance state means that you have all these technologies all the time are being developed, tested on you and your family is depriving you from having a safe space or having a safe conversation with your with your therapist, with your loved ones, with your with your family members, and even with your colleagues at work. And therefore, whenever there are like whenever when that today we are talking about big us, us. But even as big as us is just like equate or shut down or anything like that. We believe that many other or many other companies and spyware companies will continue the work. Therefore, there should be a system where Israel is being held accountable for its violations and human rights violations and violating the Palestinian people and other people. Right. To privacy and for its systematic work on this. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. And Mr. Mack.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): So a lot of question I claim my best to do instead about the mixed message from the US. I’m not very worried about that because it makes sense. In each country there are different interests of guns. Many times the defence agency are they are more welcome in this type of system and then you need to have a strong Minister of Justice and a civilian politician that we put the right stops on that. I think the question about the companies, we only know about the companies and the airlines, but as I said, down at least 1000 Israeli companies in all the defence export industry, not only in their surveillance industry, we don’t know the name, they don’t we don’t know what they are doing. And this is the issue. This is why the EU should discuss about the policy and the principle not being connected to a specific company. Because NSO could they could they change industry could be closed. And if the policy of the Israeli government is not change, we will find ourselves in the same place right now. Will we have victims from an affair of dozens of countries? And the policy is very problematic. The basic principle of the Israeli government is not to interfere in other countries internally or issue, which means that they don’t criticise or interfere in all these really system weapons says civilians have been used fully a human rights violation and other issues like because then this country would criticise and interfere in Israeli issue, which is of course the Palestinian issue according to Israel definition. And this is why if we talk about another company, that they will kill us in the last year. Cellebrite is a company that the IT system is used to hack mobile phone, not for missile, but like it used to be. You need to connect it to the phone. I found out that it was used against 4000 pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, including Joshua Wong, again say activists in Alexei Navalny organisation in Belarus. It’s still being used in Venezuela by the module the gym. In the last year they fight petition to stop the defence export to Myanmar because Israel in in September 2015 signed an agreement despite the EU and USA embargo in Myanmar arms to South Sudan doing to civil war arms to to Cameroon. And this is the policy. And as long as the EU don’t put pressure on Israel to change the policy, it will not reach it will not change about the question of the complaint, a procedure that NSO is offering. I think it’s very problem and it’s and it’s I like they emphasised the problem, the principal problem in the way that NSO and the Israeli Ministry Minister of Defence and walking. They admit that they don’t do oversight in realtime on the target list of the surveillance system. You cannot rely on nondemocratic countries or the dictatorship to follow the contracts that they signed with the Israeli company. No, there should be a full oversight in Israel. I am always the target least easily. Minister of Defence need to know exactly who is under surveillance in each in each time when we talk about any. So they ask you if in 2018 in interview to the journalist Ronen Bergman day that they have about another 50 targets worldwide. So I think the Minister of Defence could do surveillance to do oversight who are in the target list of 150 people. It’s not a lot, but they don’t want to do it because this will be considered as interference in internal issues of other countries. I think it’s very unrealistic to expect victims to launch a NSO, the company that day that day it system attack them and the data so we do investigation together with the client states why would victim we trust NSO in a dictatorship that was its client to investigate this complain they will only be afraid that they will be attacked again and that the privacy will will be more way compromised. There’s no logic to that. And also, none of these victims chose to become a client of any. So it’s not like you booked a flight and it was cancelled and now you want to file a complaint. None of them choose to be a target by NSO or any other Israeli company.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. Now we move to the infamous Zoido.
Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez (European People’s Party): Well, good afternoon, President. Chairman, rather. First of all, I wanted to point out that it’s very, very difficult to work under these particular conditions with regard to the interpretation right now. I’m referring. I think indeed that we ought to be able to carry out our meetings, and I hope indeed that we’ll be able to work effectively during our mission to Israel as well. But I do hope that this particular problem will be resolved. In the best possible fashion, because under the conditions that we work, it’s quite difficult and indeed we want the rights of all and the demands of all to be met. And we want, of course, for interpretation to exist into our mother tongues. I’d have much a much clearer picture of what’s going on if I could have interpretation and I’d be able to follow things with greater detail indeed. So I won’t participate in any sort of party, a partisan approach as far as demonising Israel on this particular front. So it’s not what we’re here to do. There have been very, very serious accusations without documentation and without the parties accused of being able to defend themselves. So I would suggest that there ought to be another place and another moment where these particular issues ought to be dealt with, perhaps in a committee dealing with the human rights, in order to be able to assess effectively everything that’s been said. And it’s a pity, indeed, that some have tried to use this particular platform right here in order to make these accusations. And if we sequester this particular process. So I simply wanted to say something about Pegasus and what its remit is. We’re here in order to look at the abuse of this particular tool by Member States of the European Union and also of our European victims, so to say, of the use of this spyware. And also to study the use of Pegasus and how it’s been deployed by Israel as well. Of course that’s of interest to us. However, it is outside of the scope of the principal focus of this particular committee and. In the course of the hearings that we’ve had over the last couple of months, on a number of occasions, there has been a doubt cast, a shadow of doubt cast on some of the definitions here. Now, terrorist terrorism is a serious crime. Terrorism. What constitutes abuse of this particular implement as well? And if we look at the appendix of the sort of the particular structure that’s there, in order to monitor this particular activity from the ministry in Israel, we find a number of different definitions there. Here we’re speaking about intentional acts which have as their purpose to intimidate the population to. And also to undermine certain political structures, institutional structures, economic or financial structures in the country or of a country or organisation agency, international association. So these are serious crimes which are defined as crimes. And and here, of course, there is a specific sentence which is stipulated in the legislation of six years of imprisonment. So. But in such as search, what we have here are not crimes which fall within this particular category. And furthermore, the system of sanctions cannot be used under any circumstance whatsoever involving actions, events against individuals or associations. And of course, here we take into consideration different groups national, national, ethnic, religious identity, sexual orientation and so on and so forth. So the particular safeguards that are included within this particular certificate are sufficient or sufficient guarantees, we feel. And on a first reading, it seems to me that the list of infractions that are listed here, one of them is a violation of the terms of contact. And this does not constitute in itself a violation of one of the sets of the one of the provisions set down in this particular list. So I simply wanted to address myself to Mr. Mack, who has referred in concrete terms to the works of this particular committee in his in the position and in his response in the position he initially adopted and the responses he made to some of the questions here. How could we change the terms of the certificate of the certification, rather? That is what my core question is. So I passed the floor immediately to Mr. Mack to reply.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): *Name* touch very a focal point in this discussion and in this is that the Ministry of Defence in these Israeli companies, specifically in Israel, they claim that they only sell the system to government to fight terror and criminality. And the document that their Parliament member unveils read it is a form that now they their clients that by the system need to saying that they declare that they will follow and use this system, the system that they buy in from Israeli companies only for this reason to fight terrorism and to find a serious criminality. But the definition of so wide, the definition of fear of terrorism is exactly the way that in Hong Kong, in here, in Russia, in in Belarus, in many countries in Saudia, this is the way they also define offences ductile could could be used for a political prosecution. The way this form define a serious crime is only is what is only fair. The punishment is six years in many countries a defamation against a state official a vote NGO walking without a registration a day they trying to change day the government like in Vietnam in the Philippines. It could be it could be a bring a person to jail and this is the problem. But as I said before today previous question Israel because of its principled way of looking not to interfere in other countries internal issues, Israel will never give in to the definition, in my opinion today you could leave it easily and we not saying it may deformed that will like expansively that day. It will include human rights consideration in this is why in this form does no mentioning about of the world’s human rights and international law. In this form the they dictate to the client not need to sign that they will follow the international law because this will be against the principle of how Israel is exporting its defence products since the fifties of the previous day, essentially.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. In order to to keep the time, we will do the concrete questions answered at the end. I will give them the floor once more to all the panellists to make any general comments if they would like to. So I passed the floor now to S&D Mr. Kohut
Łukasz Kohut (Socialists and Democrats): Thank you. Thank you, sir, for the floor. I’m not sure if the translation into Polish works, so I don’t want to raise
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): For the members in the room. You can speak your mother tongue and it will be interpreted. So if you speak Polish you will go with English.
Łukasz Kohut (Socialists and Democrats): Probably so. In November last year, Poland and Hungary disappeared from the list of countries allowed to purchase spyware from Israel. And in this way, the Peace government and Orban’s government were attributed to the group of autocratic regimes. They were officially recognised as autocratic regimes. I want to ask you about the practical dimension of the decision. Firstly, is it possible that Polish authorities used the Pegasus or similar spyware after undertaking this decision until the end of the licence? Or did the decision to refer to new licences? Are Mr. Gilberto and Kaminski able to infiltrate, infiltrate Polish citizens? Secondly, is it possible that less aggressive spyware from Israel could be transferred to the countries which were not included in the authorised list, is it? It is necessary to pay attention to the tools which are less powerful but could be used for broader integration. Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair):I guess it’s a question to all three of the of the panellists who will take them in the original order again. And we’ll start with Ms. Marwa Fatafta.
Marwa Fatafta (AccessNow): Thank you. On the first part of your question regarding the export licence to Poland, I perhaps defer this to a Thai who has more knowledge on the specifics of that licence. But on your second second part of your question, whether there are any Israeli companies or surveillance technologies that are exported or have been exported to Poland and are not on the authorised list. I want to emphasise once again on the important point that there is no transparency, no oversight on the export licence of these surveillance technologies that are exported to different countries around the world. We only learn about those technologies and those companies, thanks to the investigation of civil society organisations and independent media outlets. And that again emphasises the need, as I mentioned, for an overhaul of how Israel gives or grants export licences to Israeli companies, as well as how these companies conduct their due diligence, which is very interesting given they end up lighting or giving green light to exporting surveillance technologies to governments that are known for abusing human rights and violating human rights of their citizens.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Shtaya.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Thanks again. So yeah, for the first question, I think Mark would have a better question to answer for this. But for the second one, we’ve never know like from before when they have a deal on sitting there, surveillance technologies to which government ordered the prices or anything like that. But all these are secret deals that basically is happening between the Israeli companies and the other oppressive regimes around the world. And I believe you’ve heard about what’s happened in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and Morocco and how big is this? A spyware is being used against opponents, political appointee and journalist. One of them was Jamal Khashoggi and other people who are basically working any human rights sector. Amnesty International worked systematically on that. And basically, they they have filed cases for human rights defenders in those Arab countries. And we’ve never known like or we’ve never have any kind of information about these deals and how they are and basically and buying those or prices or anything like that. So there is a lack of transparency. And because of that, like I fear this is a complicated case where because us and other amongst other Israeli surveillance technologies are being secretly traded and after being destroyed, also, most of the time, we don’t know as Palestinians when when is that basically tested on us? Unless there is an investigation like those which where like and published over the past two or three years. And therefore, we highly encourage to have indeed investigative reports about these deals because this this would be helpful not only for the EU citizens, but also for other for other human rights advocates around the world. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Mack.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): The first question is very, very important, because this is a great opportunity for me to clarify that there is no such a list. It is just a fake news. A what happened is that in Israel we have a unique situation that the defence exporters need to first ask for a marketing licence which is from their connecting potential client in the standing of an agreement, and then a second licence which called the export closed, which means the actual exporting of their knowledge, technology or services. What happened is that because, as I said, we have three people that did do the oversight on the export to 150 countries. The number of licence got, they got to another 2000 of marketing an export licence and it got out of control. So the Ministry of Defence decided to make a list of countries that they would not need a they were not needed to do a marketing to them with the export market which is solely a marketing licence. So what happened is that after the violation of the Pegasus project, the Ministry of Defence want to to lower the flames of criticising them and they decided to a smaller day the names of the countries that don’t extend full marketing licence that the export lights in the same. There’s no rule by the Israeli Ministry of Defence not to sell to younger people and the UAE or all the other names that were published. So still, the question to you is that Israeli companies are allowed to sell to all these countries, but they will also need to ask for a marketing liaison here. This is the trick that happened in the past. For example, I realise that Israel selling equipment to balloon D doing the height of the violence of Jordan in 2015. And then the Minister of Defence told me, okay, now we are going to also do oversight on the marketing, not only on the exporting. About your second question, I think even though we don’t know the details many times we could still for bad debts. So for example, last July, July 20, 21 a day, the son of the president of the dictator of Equatorial Guinea came to Israel each year to the movement of the Equatorial Guinea and the embassy to Jerusalem. And then they signed an agreement to buy killer drone suicide drones for me from Israel. And this is a pattern we see all the time. He wanted to encourage Togo to support it in that in the West African countries. And then suddenly the president of Togo came to Israel and then we sold the vehicle, anti-riot vehicles in Togo Street. And it goes forward like that to Pinochet, to the hunter in Argentina, everywhere. And it’s happening today, sadly.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much for Renew Róża Thun.
Róża Thun und Hohenstein (Renew): Thank you very much, Mr. Mack. I didn’t quite understand what you mean by this Marketing licence versus export licence, and I would be grateful if you could because I have the impression that several of my colleagues also don’t know what it means. But it’s extremely worrying. The image that we had the but that you that you also present here and we hear about this device that was theoretically or as it was presented to the world created in order to assure our security against terrorism, etc.. And we hear from you also from you only about the use against human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, etc. But I would be interested that is also examples of a justified use of of this spying system. Do you know of any could you name them as well in Israel, Palestine or other countries where the system was sold? Thank you very much.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. First, go to Mr. Mack for the concrete question on the marketing export licence, and then I’ll pass the floor also to the others to to comment on the more general question, please, Mr. Mack. Okay.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): Then reason why Israel has the unique need for a marketing licence? In most of the countries you only need to request for export license. It is because as I explain the defence export industry is very centralised. It’s following the policy of the government. They go end in end and because of that the Israeli government didn’t want that. So individuals and companies will connect clients without the government knowledge. And also this is allowing the Ministry of Defence to decide how to do a slice the cake between different companies. So for example, if you need the marketing lies in marketing nice, then it’s to to suggest your product to a foreign client, to potential client. Indeed, you signed the contract. So even if you want to show in PowerPoint presentation of your product, you need to ask for it for marketing a licence. But if you need to ask the licence, it means that you notified the Ministry of Defence that you might have a potential client and then the Ministry of Defence could decide if you want to, to let you go on with this client or if he should give it to another company that fails. And this is why also the accountability of, of the Minister of Defence on all the scandals of NSO is it is very airtight because the Ministry of Defence is the one that decided in each country where NSO could work or not. In many countries the agreement even between the government, between the Israeli government and a foreign government, and then does a secondary government agreement, secondary contract in which the company themself fully and they lose standing on.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Miss Shtaya.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): May I ask you to repeat the question again, because the Internet was breaking a little bit?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Well, the first question was on the difference between the marketing of an export licence, but Mr. Mack has clarified that. And the second question was whether there was also cases of justified use of such spyware.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): The case in and human rights defenders. We’ve never observed any kind of justified use because basically it was used against human rights defenders who are working and those sex organisations which was which were assassinated as terrorist organisations with no claim and with no proof from the Israeli government. And whenever they are using the CCTV cameras, a blue wall, the white walls, even I image the mentioned the white walls, but also the white wolf is something similar to the blue wall, but it’s used by the Israeli illegal settlers in the West Bank when they when they allow Palestinians to and to go into the Israeli illegal settlements for work there, to work there. So basically, they are just using that to to violate Palestinians right to privacy, to collect more data and even with their biometric collection for their recent law about Palestinians who are living outside of Palestine in the diaspora. And that is the type of collected data whenever they they want to go or to visit Palestine. It just show and demonstrate how the Israeli surveillance state is collecting data is just like for surveilling people securitising and militarising public spaces and digital spaces for Palestinians with no excuses, and that the claim of having those surveillance and surveillance and technologies for security reasons, as we’ve never as Palestinians, felt secure or safe in our homelands, neither in our homes. I mentioned from before the case of the Palestinian woman who we interviewed, and she said she’s putting her hijab inside their home because she can’t feel safe inside the her home, which which is supposed to be a safe space for every woman and for every one who’s living like in their home. So basically, it’s just it’s just being used to surveil our lives to securitise and militarise our digital and offline spaces. And we’ve never, like, have a solid excuse to justify such use and against Palestinians and even in the case of Israelis. And last year or two years ago, there was also a case where one of the Israeli media outlets showed that the Israeli Shabak are spying on their citizens mobile phones and mobile calls because basically since since the year of 2000. So basically, it’s been now two decades of spying, even before it having smartphones. They were spying on the calls, mobile calls. So this is like a state built on surveillance thing. It’s it’s a surveillance state. It’s it’s built to violate people’s rights, rights to privacy. And they are utilising those technologies to to securitise and militarise our lives. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. And Ms. Fatafta.
Marwa Fatafta (AccessNow): Thank you. I mean, I can confirm that since the earliest revelations about the use of Pegasus in 2015, it was used to target journalists and lawyers in Mexico. In 2006, it was revealed that the UK government has paid about $1,000,001 billion to hack into the device of Ahmed Mansour, a prominent Emirati human rights defender who who’s serving a ten year prison sentence, is currently in solitary confinement for exercising his right to freedom of expression online. And since then, we have not heard of one case where Pegasus has been used to foil a terrorist act or to crack down on criminal activity. And the most important thing about this question, and which raises my concerns, is that how can you ensure when because when NSO group sells this technology, when it sells its Pegasus spyware to a country like Saudi Arabia, how can we ensure that when when there is lack of oversight, there’s lack of transparency and accountability, that the government is using it for legal and lawful purposes, where, as I said, again, most almost almost all of the cases or in fact all of the cases that have been documented over the past six years are cases of human rights defenders, journalists and dissidents being targeted. And as a result of that, either jailed or tortured or forcibly disappeared. Now. Also another important point that and that is raised here, is that justified according to who, for the Saudi government or in the case of the Palestinian designated organisations? These are according to national law, at least in Israel. These are considered to be terrorist organisations. And so if Pegasus spyware is used to infiltrate their devices, that’s justified according to Israeli law is the same case with Bahrain, the same case with Saudi Arabia and many other authoritarian countries that are happy to label or use the terrorism label on their political opponents and human rights defenders that do legitimate work. Does this make it justified? The short answer is no. And thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you for the Greens advice. Diana Riba i Giner.
Diana Riba i Giner (Greens): Thank you very much. I would like to speak Spanish, if I may. I have a question for all the guests. First of all, Marwa, I’d like to talk a little bit more about activists in the MENA region. I understand that these activists were very much impacted by Pegasus and by the use of this spyware. These practises damaged their reputation, professionally speaking, as professionals, as professionals that live in very conservative societies. So information was obtained through Pegasus to start off rumours, even fake rumours. Obviously this could be very detrimental for their personal life and for their professional life. It also had a very negative effect on the victims and it can have a chilling effect. So it’s not only impacting the victims themselves, but other people potentially through a chilling effect. So I’d like to ask you about the MENA region. How do you view the scandal and the consequences, perhaps in particular for women? What have the reactions been and has there been any enquiry into the matter in MENA that Israel Access now has been calling out this hacking? The hacking of six human rights defenders who are Palestinian and were. I was wondering whether they could get any evidence to demonstrate that the government is using spyware in order to spy on these individuals human rights defenders. If so, what is the impact on the NGOs they represent and what is the impact on civil society as a whole for Israel? Then a second question addressed this time through Mona, our second speaker. I’d like to talk about the rights of Palestinians when it comes to their own privacy, protection of privacy of data. I’d like to know a little bit more about that, because I understand that this might be exploited by the authorities, be that Israeli or indeed Palestinian. I think in the Palestinian Authority, there’s no particular law on privacy. Is that right? What about violations when they happen? What kind of accountability is there? So I’d like to ask a little bit more about that. Are there any actions to try and remedy that situation, to try to protect privacy of data? Is there any kind of judicial redress for the victims of this type of activity, particularly if they’ve been affected by Pegasus? Then the last speaker at. You may know that in Spain we have a tribunal that is looking into espionage using software, Pegasus software for the Catalan rights defenders. And there’s therefore a file that’s been pending for about a year and a half now. And the judge that is dealing with this particular dossier has asked for information. But there’s no response, absolutely no response to date. And I understand that the Israeli authorities are not responding very much, very slow in their response. I’d like to know whether you’ve heard about this case, whether you’ve heard about other cases where you’ve got, you know, other states involved, other states requesting information from the state of Israel and no information being forthcoming. And if so, what can you tell us about that?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Thank you very much. Three very concrete questions addressed at all three speakers. So I will take them in the order that the questions were raised. And I’ll start with Ms. Fatafta, please.
Marwa Fatafta (AccessNow): Thank you very much for these excellent questions. I will start by highlighting that indeed, across the MENA region, governments are one of the favourite clients of NSO group, as was reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz five years ago. They even had given them some nicknames to reflect how much money these governments are willing to pay in order to obtain this notorious and intrusive spyware. According to the Pegasus Project revelations that was that were revealed last year, we have now confirmed list of government clients of NSO Group that includes Bahrain, Morocco, UAE, Saudi Arabia and most recently has been revealed by a further investigative or forensic investigation by human rights organisation. It seems that Britain is also and is using this spyware. Now, of course, all of these governments that I’ve mentioned deny that are you that they are using because those spyware, the Moroccan government even went as far as suing Amnesty International for defamation in France. And whilst they I think they have the share of 10,000 phone numbers that were mentioned in the 50,000 phone numbers, lists that were shared by Amnesty International and forensic and forbidden stories, apologies and, of course, activists, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists are the target, the specific targets of ever NSO, spyware, and many of them of those who are living in exile. So post the Arab Spring in 2011, a number of activists have fled their countries for safety, including two European member states, in order to continue their work in safety and without harassment. But what companies like NSO Group have done is that they have enabled the transnational repression of governments in the MENA region, meaning that they are not only able to control and suppress activists and citizens that live in their home country, on their territories, but also those who live abroad and that want to continue to do their work as peacefully and as safely as possible. Just to name a few of those, Yazid is a Saudi activist who is living in the UK, who was hacked using Pegasus Allah Dick, which she tragically departed this world in a car accident last year. She is an exiled Emirati activist who was heading an NGO that is a partner of access now, a list that works on human rights issues in the Gulf region. She was also hacked using Pegasus. It was revealed by her friends that alert, even before her device was confirmed, being hacked using Pegasus. She suspected that she is being surveilled by the authorities. They invited Emirati authorities and as a result of that, she felt physically threatened. She was not able to use the Metro. She had to change stops that are not relevant to her, to the direction she was going. She was even afraid to go as close to the train tracks because she was afraid that someone might push her from the back. And this sentiment of feeling physically and psychologically violated and endangered is also being shared with us and access now by other women human rights defenders from the MENA region who have been hacked using Pegasus. One of them is a designer, Masaya. She’s a prominent Bahraini human rights defender who has hacked eight times in the fence in the span of four months in 2021. Sam was basically prosecuted, physically assaulted, verbally and sexually assaulted while being detained by the Bahraini authorities after she participated in a Human Rights Council session. Sam was. Fact. And he told us that she’s not able to continue her work and to live her life both personally and professionally as normally as possible. And especially because she’s a human rights activist, it means that she deals with cases of human rights abuses. She has contacts that she needs to ensure that they are secure. You mentioned a very important point, that hacking using Pegasus does not only affect the targeted individual, but also the community in which this person lives. For example, when you hear RCD or other Saudi activists that live in exile were hacked, we’ve seen a campaign on the ground in Saudi Arabia where fellow Saudi activists who are in contact with those living in exile have been detained or forcibly disappeared. Another case that I would like to bring to your attention is a Jordanian human rights lawyer, a woman human rights lawyer and name Hala. I heard she was representing one of the highest profile cases in Jordan at the moment, representing the teachers union or the teachers syndicate in Jordan in courts. She was also hacked using Pegasus. We don’t know which government hacked her, although of course you can make some conclusions given her backgrounds and her work. Hala also informed us that she lives in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear, especially because in the MENA region and in patriarchal societies, the information that is that is extracted from devices is often used in in the in the near future, are used simultaneously to discredit the targets, to tarnish their reputation by sharing on social media, private videos and private photos and details that have been extracted from the target’s phones. One example is the case of that Jazeera broadcast journalist struggle with. She was hacked using Pegasus, and she found her photos of wearing bikinis circulating on social media, photos that show him in front of her boss’s house and insinuating that she is having a sexual affair with her boss. And that led her to go and get her phone checked, which indeed has been confirmed as infected with Pegasus. And so it’s not only this is this highlights the point that it’s that hacking doesn’t stop with just hacking someone’s device. The information can be weaponized against the person to target them, to target their networks, to surveil their networks, and especially for authoritarian regimes. Now, to understand who is in touch with who, especially when we talk about an activist landscape that is transnational post the Arab Spring. And I would like to conclude in reflection to a comment that was shared on the floor before that. Even though the work of this committee is restricted to the use of Pegasus in the European Union, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of activists that have fled authoritarian regimes from the MENA region and beyond live on EU soil. And yet there has been no investigations into the use until their hacking of their devices. And then another important question always arises where can these individuals seek redress and seek justice and accountability? Noting that many of them don’t know who had them and why were they hacked, which leaves a very devastating residual of living and fear and anxiety that you might be hacked again or that some government might be snooping into your connexions and your communications.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. I do also want to ask our panellists to try to be a little bit concise in the answers with with with a view to the time. There were some concrete questions also to Mr. Shtaya. So I pass you the floor.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Thank you very much. And that’s an important question, to be honest, because I started my intervention talking about how the Israelis are controlling the illicit infrastructure in Palestine since Oslo Accords. So we as Palestinians, we don’t have any kind of sovereignty of control on our ICC infrastructure. That means that even if we have a low end with like with the P.A. to and to to to protect Palestinians right to privacy and data, it doesn’t work or it works with the P.A. and the Palestinian or a corporates, but it doesn’t work with any others because they are controlling the ICT infrastructure. Controlling that means we don’t know that kind of access to information that they have to our. Conversations and like even our use for the Internet and all all our calls. So that said, I should mention that we at the right of centre of the social media, of the advancement of social media, are working systematically to also pressure the EPA to have Palestinian laws to protect Palestinian privacy and data. But we know that this law is just could work with a P.A., as well as with the Palestinian corporates and telecoms companies, as well as Internet service providers. But it doesn’t work when it comes to the Israeli authorities, as we are living under military occupation for years now, for decades now and living under surveillance state. I don’t want to repeat again that means that even the CCTV cameras is being used to criminalise us and to suppress our voices. That said, that means that the shrinking spaces where Palestinians can express their opinions or share their their political opinion is being shrink like is shrinking on a daily basis. And as a result of that, we have monitored and documented in one of our latest reports a decrease, a huge decrease and political participation from the Palestinian young Palestinians on the social media platforms because of the chilling effect. The two thirds of the Palestinian young people are not sharing their political opinion and the social media platforms, for example, because they have the chilling effect of being prosecuted or being interrogated or something like that. So they feel that they are watched all the time. We feel that any time we could be interrogated to give you a solid example. During last May in May uprising we Palestinians and basically in Jerusalem and those players who went to the Al-Aqsa mosque to pray there. They are not activists. They are not like human rights defenders. They were just two players who went to pray in Luxor mosque. They received SMS messages on their mobile phones telling them that they have been to Al-Aqsa mosque and doing that means that they have been involved in violence work. And because of that, the Israeli authorities will held them accountable. That means that they also have access to our mobile phones. And this literally says that even if we have a privacy and data protection law in Palestine within that day, work that doesn’t prevent the Israeli violations of our right to privacy and using our data, because this is a surveillance state that basically is working systematically to securitise and militarise our and our lives and prevent us from our activism, from sharing our opinion, from even having a normal life to go, to pray or to go like to have a safe space with within our families. I don’t want to give more exact examples, but there are many more. If you if you want to hear more examples about that, I can give you and I can share with you other kinds of surveillance because of that. When I started, I said, It’s Panopticon because we feel surveilled and fight on in every single thing that we are doing. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Mack please.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): The bottom line is that the Israeli government is not going to say anything today. A Spanish committee and I don’t want to offend you, but probably also not to you. The only rare example in Israel history, that Israel agreed to collaborate with the international investigation, was during the Iran-Contra scandal when Israel was afraid that the American Congress will put sanctions on Israel or affect its financial military aid. This was the only time in history that Israel was ready to collaborate, give documents and to share information and participate in investigation. But in this specific case of span, we also have to talk about if it is a good example, the risk that the European countries are taking while thinking that to damage will not happen because you could say that the Israeli government is holding the Spanish government by the neck because if the Spanish government bought the system from Israel to repress or to criminalise de Catalanian or other groups in Spain. So it’s very difficult for the Spanish government to criticise how the system was used to other countries to use against itself. And this is why I think there should be a total ban both for internal use and also for external use. Another issue to point out, is that the court in Spain already criminalise the activists and politicians for independent of Catalonia. And of course, when later the government come to the court and ask for a warrant for surveillance, after the court already agreed that they are risking the national security of the state, of course they will issue the court ruling. And this is the problem.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you for it, Mr. Lebtreton.
Gilles Lebreton (Identity and Democracy): Thank you, Chair. I’ve got a comment, and then I’d like to ask a question. Since the very beginning of this hearing, we’ve been going between two subjects. The first is really personal relations, and this is not what I’m here for today. And the second subject, which is our subject, is the use of Pegasus software. So I’ve got a question on that, which in particular I’d like to address to Mr. Mac. He’s spoken of the United States and recalled that they have got this blacklist. But I’m just wondering about the meaning of putting the NSA on this blacklist. It could just mean that the United States are taking precautions to avoid the software being used in any old way. And appearing on this blacklist means that every time a U.S. company wants to use this software, they will have to get approval from the American government if they want to import it. So looking at this from this angle would change things a bit because it would seem that the U.S. are in favour of using the software on certain conditions. So is this the current position of the United States, Mr. Mack? Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): And also a concrete question to Mr. Mack. I’ll pass the floor to Mr. Mack to answer.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): I think the U.S. position is still unclear because we still don’t know what going to be the next steps after this decision. We did a deal about a new step that’s going to happen. But practically speaking, this decision by the commerce office in the U.S. had the huge effect. Huge effect. It it caused a huge effect inside the Israeli defence export companies, inside the Israeli government. It affects NSO financial issues. And also it’s a strong message to all the companies. Of course, a human right lawyer and activists will appreciate if the decision will be stronger and more total. But I think that now we are out of balance, that the U.S. decided something and the EU is still discussing on this. It is to slow in making any move. And as I said, especially because many of these companies have European investors or have registered subcompanies in Cyprus, in Luxembourg or in other countries, you must take an action on that.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Vladimír Bilčík,
Vladimír Bilčík (European People’s Party): Thank you very much. A couple of quick points. And I also want us to stick to the remit of this committee and question to Mr. Mack on his remark that the NSO is not really a private company. And I’m wondering if you could elaborate a bit more on this, especially when it comes to the consequences for dealing with the governments or companies in the EU when it comes to the sale and maintenance of the spyware. If you could be a bit more specific and especially reflect on the consequences of this fact, that’s one issue with which I’d like to raise. The second issue is on the public salience of public response, if there is any, in Israel, on the activities and the discussion which we are having across the European Union, also in this House, when it comes to potentially harming consequences of the misuse of Pegasus spyware, is this reflected at all publicly when it comes to decision makers, when it comes to politicians, political parties? What’s your assessment? I’m asking this question also, especially in the context of next week’s mission. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. That was the complete question to Mr. Mack. And then I guess for all the three speakers on the more general question, please also be somewhat concise in your response because we have some more members that ask questions and only limited time available. I pass the floor to Mr. Mack.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): Of course, that NSO is registered and organises a private company, but in comparison to European or American companies NSO could not decide on anything. As I said, the Ministry of Defence and the Israeli Government could decide if a former intelligence officer and soldier could work in NSO, they could decide on the export licence, on the marketing license. NSO could not be open tomorrow morning if the government would want her not to work. And of course all the policy of exporting of NSO, especially to the Israeli government policy. And you could see the timeline that whenever it was reported that surveillance tool Pegasus and victims in different country had happened, then it was time when the Netanyahu government had suddenly established diplomatic relationship, or there were some voting. Or, for example, in the case of Hungary, we could see that suddenly Hungary become much stronger to vote in the Israeli position in in the EU institution. So I think it’s quite clear and it’s important not to be focussed too much on the companies themselves and not the Israeli government to give them the lighting to operate. About the question of the discussion, as I said, the courts don’t want to touch it. The Knesset don’t want to touch it. If we talk about the public. There is a very interesting movement inside of Israel that they are people from all the variety of political parties, from the extreme left until the extreme right. That for different reason support different regulation. These companies that are against the use of the systems, against for a human rights violations. But sadly, the media and the parliaments are not echoing this feeling of many people that they believe in the Israeli public. And I’m pard of I think a movement that try to change that, including the Amnesty International in Israel. And there is a coalition called X, of different organisation and rabbis for human rights and others.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. And also Mrs. Shtaya on the second question.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Well. Can you hear me?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Yes, we can hear you.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Okay, so, yeah, I feel Mack has answered that, like give a precise answer on this question, but like, just to be honest, within the Palestinian civil society and within that also the organisation that human rights organisations working inside Israel, there is a movement always talking about the use of the surveillance technologies against the human rights defenders and how is that being used. And as he mentioned, like the media is barely covering that. And and this is basically as like it’s it’s it’s a political decision to be used and therefore, it should be like the investigations that you are doing, guys. It’s it’s really important, but also it should and like it should include more Palestinian organisations to hear from their experience with the surveillance, with the surveillance, spyware is with big shows and I believe like meeting I highly encourage you to meet the sex Palestinians and human rights defenders who will face or who have experience with begins to hear their their own experience about this use of biggest was a spyware to hear from them not only their own experience but also how is that how that affected their organisations which which was immediately after this reveal about being hacked as designated as as as terrorist organisations. And how was this this spyware is and surveillance technologies is just being used to silence human rights voices in Palestine as well as within the Israelis, sit within the Israeli citizens, as I mentioned from before. So basically, I highly encourage you to meet as much as you can Palestinian and Israeli human rights activists, defenders and organisations to hear from their own experience about how their experience was when they were hacked and how that affected the work, as well as how is that affecting their shrinking spaces. And these.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Please conclude.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. And then Madam Fatafta as well, please.
Marwa Fatafta (AccessNow): Thank you. I mean, I remember when the Pegasus project was revealed last year in July, which was covered by Israeli media, was the decision from the ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s not to sell its ice cream to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. That was the main headlines and the general discussion amongst spokesperson and amongst the strata of the Israeli governments, government and, and media. And I think just to add and reinforce what Eitay and other panellists have emphasised, that the Israeli government is not willing to regulate it’s spyware. It should it should not take more than the egregious killing and dismemberment of of a journalist, a well-known journalist in a consulate in Turkey, for the Israeli government to act and investigate and stop the abuse of pixel spyware. Even after the biggest project revelations in July. We have not seen any concrete action from the Israeli government. That is serious, as serious as the allegations and the investigations that were made, that clearly document the series of egregious human rights abuses that are facilitated by the use of Pegasus spyware around the world in authoritarian countries and democratic countries alike. And I think it’s it’s really important during your visit, again, I don’t want to repeat myself, speak to people on the ground, speak to experts, both Palestinian and Israeli, and ensure that this is not just about one company, but it’s also about the system that enables and supports the export of these technologies for economic or diplomatic reasons. And thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. Katarina Barley.
Katarina Barley (Socialists and Democrats): Yes. Thank you very much. Well, first of all, it’s it’s it’s called Israel and Spyware our meeting. And we’ve had now three voices with one perspective. My question maybe to the chair is, did we invite also Israeli officials, the government officials or whoever? Because I think it would have been interesting to hear a few of replies to to to to this point of view from their side. The second question is when it came to these marketing licences. So so they have to be requested. Is there any, any case known where it has been refused. So where the government says we do not want you to go, I mean, to ask for permission does only make sense if there’s like a decision yes or no. Is is there also a decision? No known. And the question is or the. Yeah, is maybe a very general one because you I think at least two of you spoke about a total ban. Now, my question is, do you do you believe there should be a ban in general on using spyware by whoever as a secret services, police forces, whoever? Which I don’t believe is realistic. So if the answer would be no, not to a general ban on any sort of spyware, then my question would be, how do you define the limits? Is it a geographical limits? Is it limits in in in what they can do this spyware? Is it a limit in how you need to control them at transparency? Could you could you elaborate on that for a moment?
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. The first question was to me, so I’ll answer that. Of course, today’s hearing is in preparation of next week’s mission to Israel. And at the mission next week, we’ll have ample opportunity to also speak to representatives of the Israeli government, of the different ministries of the parliament, where, of course, we have ample time also to hear their side of the story. This is why today we have chosen the three the three interlocutors that we we have on the agenda today. For the other two questions, I refer to our panellists also, it’s 2 minutes to five. I think we can go on a little bit longer. We have two more members. I want to ask questions if the panellists will have some time just to be with us directly afterwards, we’ll have the coordinators meeting. But I am confident in the ability of our coordinators to do this as efficient as possible, to stick within them the time limits of the full meeting. So in order to address the two questions that Ms. finally asked, I will start with Ms. Fatafta, please.
Marwa Fatafta (AccessNow): All right, I’m able to speak now. I’ll answer the second question on banning and whether it’s feasible and realistic. I think regulation of spyware and use of surveillance technologies does not necessarily equate with banning technologies. I think there are a number of mechanisms that governments can do at international, but also at national level to ensure that this technology is not abused by state actors, including, for instance, obligating companies by law to conduct due diligence into before the sale of their spyware or other surveillance technologies to ensure that these technologies do not fall into the hands of governments that are most likely to abuse them. Which means, for instance, that NSO group, if it had to be, if it had to do a proper due diligence that would not allow for the sale of its spyware to governments like Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. It also means that there is a transparency and oversight. There are active mechanisms for redress for victims. And by the time and as I want to reiterate the position of access now in many other civil society organisations, that until we understand and figure out what’s a regulation that ensures that these technologies do not violate human rights around the world, that we need to enforce this moratorium, and it’s the duty of governments around the world to ensure that this moratorium is enforced, to stop this flow of surveillance technologies. As we’ve heard in this session and many sessions before, that the surveillance industry is unable to regulate itself. So it needs to be regulated by governments. So we need an international mechanism, but we also need national governments to strengthen their export controls, not just to have some mechanisms to rubberstamp these decisions, as in the case of these of Israel and its surveillance industry. But to ensure that there is a very close vetting process, there’s oversight, there’s transparency, and there’s accountability on how and when and where these technologies are being used in order not to violate human rights abuses and at the same time be used for legitimate purposes.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Shtaya.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Thank you for this question. We’ve been now talking for 2 hours and other organisations, including our organisations, have been working on the surveillance issues for years now. And till now we’ve like we are talking about violations so we can, we can start to talk about that. We should keep surveillance or encourage using surveillance technologies. We know that it’s not realistic to ban all surveillance technologies because basically governments as well as the companies will continue to manufacture that, testing that on oppressed people and selling that to profit from occupation and from those oppressive regimes. But to be honest, we should make a strict measures on how, when and why these these these surveillance technologies are being used then. Now we are like we are just counting and mentioning and giving examples of using those technologies against political opponents, activists, human rights defenders, journalists and normal people who are just doing their lives, living their life and doing their jobs. So basically, those surveillance states are using that just to securitise and militarise their people and the other people to oppress them, to silence them, and to prevent them from having a normal life, to create that effect of panopticon. Therefore, it should, like those strict measures, should be internationally accepted and should be used wherever, like wherever that surveillance technology is should be used. It should be justified strictly. And to have like accountability measures, strict accountability measures to to sanction governments and corporates wherever they are using or selling or maintaining such surveillance systems for no reason, just for securitising and militarising people’s lives and like basically also oppress people’s lives. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Mr. Mack.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): About the first question the Ministry of Defence in Israel is lacking any transparency. They don’t release number, and also, whenever they do release something, many times they are contradicting themselves. So according to previous information that they released, they accepted between 90 to 98% of the requests for licence that they got and also in that maybe ten or 2% of requested were rejected, we don’t know if we are talking about new licences or about requests to renew a licence. And this has a meaning because maybe they decided to cancel the possibility to renew a licence. the licencing given for each year and decided to give the export to another company to a parallel company. So it’s very difficult to know. But I think the fact is that they don’t deny that they approve most of the request. About what I propose, I don’t propose to ban regulated surveillance. I propose, I support the ban of Pegasus type system which are total. The are allowing to do anything. It’s not like the traditional wiretapping that the police connect and then could wiretape from the moment it’s connected to the future. No it allows to take everything all the history. It allowed also to implant evidence and also to erase evidence. It allows to manipulate in the criminal process. On that I want to give an example of mine. One of the Israeli dissident that work for Palestinian that represented for many years. He was detained on an incident and I asked to do a give him legal representation in the hearing before the charges were filed. And it was an incident of a few minutes and I asked to get the investigation material and then I was told, I have to go to the general attorney to take the material. And I was surprised. It was like incidental 5 minutes. And then I got see this with all his mobile phone information for years past, including all the conversation that they had for him for many years. So what about the lawyer and client secrecy? All the rules are being broken down. I believe that if we define a the rules and then system that are total like Pegasus type. Then the technology company will update the system. If, for example, they will they update the system that it could be used only from the present to the future or other possibilities.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you. And then the last speaker on my list is Saskia Bricmont.
Saskia Bricmont (Greens): Thank you. I’d just like to start by thanking. Our guests and also thank them for their efforts to defend human rights. Because what’s going on is. An aberration and you’ve got to realise that this has got to consequences for innocent people, for activists, for human rights lawyers and this is what directly impacts our work. So thank you very much for speaking to the members of this committee and we will be talking to NGOs who work in the field next week. And on behalf of the committee, I’d like to give you some contacts in the field, some of the Palestinian activists. I think this could be useful for you and also for the mission which will take place next week. And I think also it would be a good idea to talk to each other and not just about Pegasus, but other spy software. And also to talk to the authorities if they receive us. But that’s not a given. I think that there are also clear links with our work in Europe. Taking into account the fact that our governments are also making using these in an incorrect this their software in an incorrect way. And I wanted to stress this that it’s important for our work all our work on exchange of data with third parties could help in the fight against that which is supposedly for the fight against terrorism, which could lead to illegal use. But regarding Mrs. Fatafta, you mentioned that you had a list of client governments. Could you share this list with us and any other information which could be useful for our work? And Mrs. Shtaya, you also suggested that you could share some documents with us because you’ve been working on this for years, and that would be useful. I heard members of this committee that they haven’t got anything tangible apart from your oral account, and so documents would be useful. Also, I think that we’re going to experience the same kind of political problems that the same kind of obstacles that you have in Israel. Because, Mr. Mack, you talked about this yourself. Why has there been no reaction? Because people are just saying, basically each government uses this kind of spy software, whether we’re talking about Pegasus or another one. So this absence of political reaction is it’s the same here. You’ve had presidents, you’ve had commissioners, you’ve got citizens of member states who have been spied on. And people just are not doing anything about it. They’re shrugging their shoulders. And so we we would like to be able to have an exchange of views with you. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. Concrete questions to Ms. Fatafta and Ms. Shtaya about sharing of documents. I first past the floor to Ms. Fatafta, please.
Marwa Fatafta (AccessNow): Thank you. And very quickly, the list of confirmed government clients of NSO group has been published by Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories, and I can quickly read them out loud. They are 11 countries Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Togo and the United Arab Emirates. Those are confirmed government clients of NSO Group per the investigation of Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories, which was what was launched last year. And you can find the information publicly published online.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you, Ms. Shtaya.
Mona Shtaya (7amleh): Thank you. From our side, we have we published a position, papers and reports about privacy during the pandemic and after that and living under surveillance state. We would be happy to share links for whatever we shared on the surveillance in general and the rights to privacy for Palestinians. After this meeting, I will be sending that to the committee’s email and after you have a look at that, if you have any questions, I would be happy to answer that. Thank you.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much. And of course, I think it’s our duty as a committee to keep looking for information, because in a meeting and as over there was already confirmed that the list of customers at least is a lot longer than 11, although we don’t have any concrete information about who is on that list. Exactly the same thing. I think today we spoke about 150 targets within, as we already talked about, 12, 13,000 yearly targets. So the need for more information is, I think, very apparent. Then there was one follow up question from our rapporteur, Sophie in ’t Veld, please.
Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): Yes, thank you. And I concur with your last words. And that’s also the background to my follow up question, because it’s addressed to Mr. Monk, because you said rightfully that we should not focus on individual companies, but on the principles and regulate. I fully agree with that. At the same time, in order to know where we have to intervene with legislative action, we have to understand. We have to, you know, map out the problem. And here we’ve been focussing, of course, on Israel today in view of our mission next week. But and this was the background to my earlier question, whether, you know, somebody by the name of Tal DeLeon who has been he’s I think he was not originally an Israeli citizen, but he has studied and lived there and he’s worked for the Israeli Defence Force in the technological units for 25 years. And he seems to be a person who on one hand has all these connexions with NSO, we see the Israeli government, with the with the Defence Force, etc. at the same time, he is also founder, owner, co-owner, funder, CEO of all sorts of connected companies which are established in the European Union and they claim that they are EU based and EU regulated. What that means, I don’t exactly know, but it means that they are that they are circumventing this whole procedure of authorisation by the Israeli government, which is not very effective anyway. But but still there is a kind of procedure. So if they’re based here, they’re selling the products from here, but they’re at the same time connected to, uh, you know, they have all the Israeli connexions that we’ve also been discussing today. And at the same time they seem to have connexions to European governments. Then, you know, I think it is important that we get we get a clear view of how this whole sector is is organised because I think it is deliberate that it’s so complicated that you have all these, these connexions between Israel and then companies established in the European Union because they escaped scrutiny, they escape authorisation procedures and it’s extremely difficult to understand how they operate. They say on their websites, they they don’t you know, on some websites they say we sell products for intelligence services, but more often they say we sell software solutions to governments. So, you know, they’re they’re completely below the radar this way. And that’s why I was asking you if you if you know, because you’ve been focussing on the so but are you familiar with this particular person with his activities? He’s also working with Miffed Duck Shamir Technologies, for example. Do you do you can you say more about these these connexions.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Mr. Mack.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): I haven’t been following this guy except what’s reading about him in the news. But I think it’s, as you say, the way that these companies in the individual are working is very complex. But if you go and read the English translation of the Israeli Defence Export Control Law from 2007, you will see that it includes any Israeli citizen or any company that is being owned or an under control of Israeli citizens. The meaning of that is that it doesn’t matter where the company is registered, in the EU in the in the Virgin Islands. Never mind they’re all under the regulation of the Israeli government. And they all need to get an export licence. And this is why it makes all the life of the committee much easier because the authority that gives them the licence is the Ministry of Defence in Israel, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Sophie in ’t Veld (Renew): So do I understand correctly you’re saying that even if they are based in Europe as they are in Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, that even then because of this connexion with Israel, they they would need this expert licence by the Israeli authorities.
Eitay Mack (Human Rights Lawyer): Exactly. They will need an export licence from the Israeli authorities. And this is one of the way to confuse, in the past, you know, Israel has a good relationship with many Arab countries, but in the past years, what Israeli companies did is that they add a factory or also a sub-company written in the UK or in some EU state or in other place. And then when the information was revealed that Israelis is working in Arab country, the Israeli government say no. they are registered in another country. So they say it’s not connected to us, but it’s not right. Since 2007, according to the Israeli law, all of them need to get a licence from the Ministry of Defence. And there’s a reason for that because whenever an Israeli and especially a former military intelligence officer is doing something, it’s been understood in other countries by the media as an action of the Israeli government and the Israeli government want to control all these individuals in their companies.
Jeroen Lenaers (Chair): Thank you very much, Mr. Mack. That concludes our hearing today. Well, we start at 10 minutes late, so we only are 7 minutes overtime, which is good. Thank you all the members for participating. And particularly a big thanks to our three guests panellists Ms.. Fatafta, Ms. Shtaya and Mr. Mack for your contribution today and for your answers to all the questions that were raised. I think it was very useful in preparation of of our mission to Israel next week. And I look forward to also sharing our main conclusions of our visit next week with you afterwards. And thank you also for the concrete recommendations that you made. Thank you all very much. Thank you to all the colleagues. We will continue in the same room with a coordinators meeting. So I ask the coordinators to stay here so we can we can conclude also that part of the meeting. Thank you very much. And for those who I don’t see anymore, I wish you a very good summer break. Thank you.