Speaking by videoconference from Russia to an audience in Tel Aviv, whistleblower Edward Snowden has slammed Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO for its role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
He said, "How do they know what his plans were and that they needed to act against him? That knowledge came from the technology developed by NSO. They are selling a digital burglary tool. Companies like this are popping up all over the world. They are not trying to save lives but just make money."
He added, "If we can allow ourselves to be terrorized by someone with nothing but a knife, to reorder our societies for the convenience of state power then we've stopped being citizens and we've started being subjects."
He described companies like NSO and Facebook, which are based on collecting masses of information about the public and violating the freedom of their victims as, "the worst of the worst."
The former NSA officer achieved worldwide fame after being responsible for the largest and most sensitive intelligence leak in history. Snowden's revelations about the US and UK surveillance program between 2013 and 2015 shocked intelligence agencies around the world and changed the way in which governments and intelligence organizations conduct their affairs.
Snowden was speaking in Tel Aviv by video conference as part of a closed event organized by Israeli media consultancy firm OH! Orenstein + Hoshen. The interview was conducted by tech journalist Dror Globerman.
Asked why he had chosen to speak to an Israeli audience, he said, "Like most Americans, I am against the occupation (of the west Bank) and I support those trying to end it. But I do not think progress can move without dialogue.”
OH! Partner Hedan Orenstein said that the reason for inviting Snowden to speak was inherent in the firm's areas of specialization, "Snowden affects in the broadest and deepest way the worlds of content that we deal with including: law, economics, technology and crisis management. The interview with Snowden is also an opportunity to speak with him and through him about issues that don't always get their fair share of public discourse: individual freedom, freedom of expression, and the role of a free press in a reality of security threats."
OH! Partner Itamar Hoshen added, "Snowden represents by his actions, in the most outstanding way, the constant tension existing between media consultants and topics covered by the media; the tension between individual freedom and freedom of the press; between the sacred right to privacy and the right of journalists to conduct free and open discussions. As part of our work, we are required to bridge this tension on a daily basis."
NSO said in response, "NSO is the only company of its kind in the world that has an independent ethics committee, including outside experts with a background in law and international relations, to prevent its products from being used for bad purposes,” it said in a statement Wednesday. “In contrast to what’s published in the media, the company does not sell and does not allow their use in many countries."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 7, 2018
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