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US lawmakers call for sanctions against ‘israeli’ Spyware Firm NSO

A group of US lawmakers is asking the Treasury Department and State Department to sanction Israeli spyware firm NSO Group and three other foreign surveillance companies they say helped authoritarian governments commit human rights abuses.

Their letter sent late Tuesday and seen by Reuters also asks for sanctions on top executives at NSO, the United Arab Emirates cybersecurity company DarkMatter, and European online bulk surveillance companies Nexa Technologies and Trovicor.

Lawmakers asked for Global Magnitsky sanctions, which would punish those who are accused of enabling human rights abuses by freezing bank accounts and banning travel to the United States.

The letter was signed by the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and 16 other Democratic lawmakers.

NSO Group last month was blacklisted by the US Commerce Department, along with Israeli company Candiru.

The two firms were added to the “Entity List.”

Washington said the initiative “is based on evidence that these entities have developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments, which have used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, business people, activists, academics and embassy workers.”

Earlier this month it was reported that the phones of State Department employees in Uganda were hacked using spyware developed by NSO Group.

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