‘Israeli’ Firm Provided Phone-hacking Services to Saudi Arabia
17 Sep 2020 10:13
Islam Times - In November of last year, a representative of the ‘Israeli’ firm Cellebrite landed at King Khaled International Airport in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The man, a foreign national whose identity is known to TheMarker, Haaretz’s sister publication, arrived on a commercial flight from London to hack into a phone in the possession of the Saudi Justice Ministry.
The details of the visit were agreed upon before the hacker landed.
Cellebrite staff demanded of the Saudis that their employee be met at the Riyadh airport by a government representative. They insisted that he pass through passport control without his passport being stamped and without an inspection of the electronic equipment that he would have with him, which they demanded would not leave his possession and only which he would use.
From there, it was agreed in advance that the hacker would be immediately taken to an isolated hotel room, where the Saudis committed not to install cameras – and where the job of hacking and copying information from a mobile cellphone was carried out. When the work was completed, Cellebrite’s representative returned to the airport and flew back to London.
Cellebrite is not the only ‘Israeli’ company to provide hacking or other cybersecurity services to the Saudi kingdom, but it is apparently the only one that does so without any oversight from the ‘Israeli’ War Ministry.
It was recently disclosed that Cellebrite has not been registered as a security-related exporter, as the law requires, due to what they claim is the non-defense nature of their phone-hacking hardware. As a result, the ‘Israeli’ firm and its gear is not subject to the supervision of the War Ministry’s ‘Defense’ Export Control Agency – due to what has been described by critics as a failing on the company’s part, and possibly of the ministry as well.
Cellebrite, which said that it serves police and security forces in 150 countries, has been classified up to now as an exporter of dual-use civilian services under the supervision of the Economy Ministry. In August, following allegations regarding services that it provided to the Hong Kong police as part of its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, the ‘Israeli’ Economy Ministry claimed it was not responsible for overseeing any services that the company provides to police forces – shifting responsibility for that to the War Ministry.
Story Code: 886780