Pakistan is buying Israeli phone-hacking spyware, says report

Israel, Pakistan

The Federal Investigation Agencies (FIA) as well as other police agencies in Pakistan have been using hacking tools built by Israeli cyber technology firms since 2012, The News International reported citing a report published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.  

The tech sold by the Israeli firm to Pakistan enables law enforcement agencies to engage in digital forensic work by hacking into password-protected mobile phones. It then allows security forces to copy all the information stored on such devices, including pictures, documents, text messages, calling histories, and contacts.

The report said Cellebrite, the Israeli tech firm, products law enforcement agencies to engage in digital forensic work by hacking into password-protected cellphones and copying all the information stored on them – including pictures, documents, text messages, calling histories and contacts, reported The News International.

The Israeli newspaper quoted local media in Pakistan and stated that the Sindh police acquired a flagship project UFED Touch Ultimate devices made by Cellebrite in 2012 and its use by the police agencies has been expanding since then, reported The News International. 

The operating manuals, documents and official invitations for bids showed that police and FIA are regularly operating these systems, the report added. 

The report further said that the spyware connection between Israel and Pakistan has crossed decades, political parties and ruling administrations, as per The News International. 

In 2021, during the tenure of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, the FIA issued a tender for hacking devices. Moreover, in May, the Peshawar police also issued a tender for the acquisition of Israeli hacking tools.

Cellebrite responded to the article and said, “The company does not sell to Pakistan, directly or indirectly.”

It added that Cellebrite is committed to its goal of creating a safer world by providing solutions for law enforcement bodies that permit them to solve crimes more quickly, reported The News International. 

“For that purpose, we have developed strict means of oversight that ensure proper use of our technology in the context of investigations carried out by virtue of the law. As a global leader in digital intelligence, Cellebrite’s solutions assist thousands of law enforcement agencies to convict those who endanger public security and to do justice to the victims of crime,” Cellebrite added. 

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