US whistle-blower Edward Snowden accused the Israel cyber intelligence firm NSO Group Technologies of “selling a digital burglary tool” which he claimed had been used to track Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Turkey last month.
Technology made by an Israeli company was used to target groups of journalists in Mexico and other problematic areas, including Khashoggi, Snowden, who leaked classified NSA information, told a conference in Israel on Tuesday.
The whistle-blower spoke via video conference from an undisclosed location in Russia at an event organized by Israeli-based strategic, corporate, tech and financial communications firm OH! Orenstein Hoshen.
He accused NSO firm of “selling a digital burglary tool” and stressed that even if some good actors are using their software, “it is not just being used for catching criminals and stopping terrorist attacks…not just for saving lives, but for making money…such a level of recklessness…actually starts costing lives”.
It was NSO’s software, he stated, that was used to track Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkish city of Istanbul early October.
Khashoggi, known for his criticism of Saudi Arabia’s policies, went missing on October 2 after entering the kingdom consulate in Istanbul to obtain a marriage document. Ankara has accused Riyadh of murdering the writer and smuggling his body out of the consulate in pieces. After two weeks of denial by Saudi officials, Riyadh confessed that Khashoggi had been murdered by its security agents at the Istanbul consulate, but made no mention of where his body is. It also sacked a top general and arrested several people.
The Saudi Public Prosecutor has also stated that the assassination of Khashoggi at the Riyadh consulate in Turkish city of Istanbul in early October was premeditated.
More than Five weeks after the Saudi writer vanished, the details of his killing are still murky and the cause of his death is unknown. Officials in Riyadh have come up with shaky explanations for Khashoggi’s demise; first stressing that he left the consulate alive, then stating that he was killed accidentally in a fistfight, and finally alleging a “rogue operation” unbeknownst to the Saudi rulers.
Snowden, who leaked classified information on numerous US secret surveillance programs back in 2013, faces espionage charges in the United States and may face life imprisonment or even capital punishment if ever tried on US soil.
His studies in history and background in the media industry have given him a keen insight into the use of mass media as a creator of conflict in the modern world.
His favored areas of study include state-sponsored terrorism, media manufactured reality and the role of intelligence services in manipulation of populations and the perception of events.