Edward Snowden: Israeli software tracked Khashoggi - Whisper Eye

Edward Snowden: Israeli software tracked Khashoggi

Technology made by an Israeli company was used to target groups of journalists in Mexico and other problematic areas, including slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Edward Snowden, the infamous “whistle-blower”who leaked classified NSA information, told a conference in Israel on Tuesday.

Though he was not physically present due to concerns that he would be handed over to US authorities, Snowden was responded to by former Mossad deputy chief Ram Ben Barak and took questions from other members of the audience.
The event was organized by Israeli media consultancy firm OH! Orenstein Hoshen.

Snowden began by defending his security leaks and defended himself from fans who did not want him to have contact with Israel on a public level.

He said, “like most Americans, I am against the occupation [of Israel of the Palestinians.] I support those trying to end it. But I do not think progress can move without dialogue,” in explaining why he decided to speak publicly to an Israeli audience.

Snowden accused the Israeli NSO firm of “selling a digital burglary tool” and said 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 said, that was used to track Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul last month. The infamous leaker said he had succeeded in pushing the discussion of liberal democratic governments “collecting and abusing our data” saying “it is being talked about more…when you move from conspiracy theory to fact – the conversation changes.”

Furthermore, he said that the approach of regular citizens’ telephone calls and emails could lead to intelligence agencies making the wrong decisions when there are complex calls to make.

Attacking the surveillance state as not bringing security, he said: “Surveillance is not about safety. Surveillance is about control.”

Also, he warned that private companies could at some point grab power over regular people’s lives that governments will not be able to restrain.

Questioned over whether his push for reining in surveillance has failed since democracies are making partial limitations, although still accepting the new surveillance state, he said, “that is too short-sighted. I think things are getting better…We are starting to see our human rights being enforced,” referring to private companies’ encryption at resisting government surveillance.

Asked how the NSA surveils Israelis versus Americans, Snowden said, “everything that is happening to Americans is happening to you – and worse.” He was also asked whether Israel surveils the world to a similar extent that the US does and said, “Israelis are some of our closest partners. Anything that we are doing that the Israelis aren’t doing now, they are probably trying to do…They are probably jealous of us…and it has to do with that we have more traffic.”

Moving into Israel’s cyber sector, he added, “Israel has a phenomenal tech sector. It is something to take pride in…But is it all really cyber security?”

SNOWDEN SAID that Israel is routinely at the top of the US’s classified threat list of hackers along with Russia and China, due to its abilities, even though it is an ally.

Asked if Israeli companies like NSO were unique or whether NSO’s activities were happening with the cyber sector around the world, Snowden responded, “In the Israeli model, there is closer cooperation between the government and the state.”

Pressed that Israelis need and prefer security over certain limitations of government, Snowden referred to Nazi Germany as the origin of this way of thinking, adding that other countries, such as the US were also going down this path.

Addressing Facebook’s collection of data, he said, “Facebook does not care about you, your country, your politics, what happens to you, – Facebook cares about one thing: your data. They are surveillance people. Their product is you – the story of your life and the lives of your neighbors.”

Hedad Orenstein and Itamar Hoshen said, “Our firm is engaged in advising clients…in the realm of economics, law, technology and high-tech – and these are exactly the fields in which Snowden is involved.”

They said that Snowden was “a fascinating figure because his actions are so controversial” and that the audience could “work out their own opinions.”

Snowden was working for a private contractor of the CIA and NSA when he made international headlines by publishing masses of classified information in the biggest and most sensitive leak in the history of intelligence.kidnapping, from pedophiles and from other criminals,” concluded the NSO statement.