Tel Aviv: Asher Levi who headed the Israeli software group NSO currently under fire for its controversial spying software Pegasus announced that he had ended his tenure at the company, although he denied rumours of stepping down because of the controversy.
Levy had been NSO chairman since April 2020. He has since been an appointee of UK-based private equity firm Novalpina Capital, VC fund with Berkeley Research Group, which had bought NSO in 2019.
"The fund brought me in in 2020. About five months later it was replaced by BRG, and I told them I wish to finish my role as I was not appointed by them," Levi was quoted as saying.
He added that he was "full of appreciation to NSO, the lifesaving technology it develops … and the unprecedented ethical policies the company has adopted."
The Israeli financial daily Calcalist reported that Levi's resignation came around the time the local police had bought the Pegasus software.
Israel Police used Pegasus to collect intelligence for investigative purposes, with no legal oversight, targeting protest leaders in the anti-Netanyahu demonstration movement, as well as mayors suspected of corruption, Calcalist reported.
NSO has been placed on a blacklist by the US Department of Commerce after tech giant Apple filed a lawsuit against it following the discovery that the Pegasus software had been exploiting a flaw in 11 of its phones belonging to US officials in other countries like in West Africa. The Joe Biden government has also placed it on an export prohibition list that restricts it from obtaining some types of technology from the US.
NSO has additionally faced either legal action or criticism from Microsoft Corp., Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.
In India, the Supreme Court-appointed committee probing the Pegasus spyware snooping matter has issued a public notice seeking details from people who may have felt their mobile devices may have been infected by Pegasus malware.
Politicians, journalists, activists and others across the globe have had their phones infected with the software that causes the software operator to have access to messages and even see what is happening in the phone live.