Washington Post report neglected spyware firm’s Democratic connections in hacking investigation

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The Washington Post neglected to reference an Israeli firm’s Democratic connections when releasing an investigation into a hacking scandal.

On Sunday, the Washington Post published an article titled “Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide.” The investigative report revealed the Israeli firm NSO Group was responsible for the successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, activists, and business executives.

The piece explained, “Military-grade spyware licensed by an Israeli firm to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and 16 media partners.”

The investigation also emphasized that other phones could have likely been targeted as well, conflicting with the NRO Group’s original claim of only targeting terrorists or suspected criminals. This investigation led to the NRO Group’s name trending through Twitter as well as several critiques from journalists.

However, the 4000-word article neglected to reference the firm’s connections to an advisor for President Joe Biden.

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In a Twitter thread, New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel explained that the NSO Group had paid the company SKDK, the Democratic-aligned firm of Biden advisor Anita Dunn until late 2019.

“The Israeli firm NSO GROUP was behind the spyware used to hack journalists & human rights activists, a @WashingtonPost investigation reveals. Not included in the story: NSO GROUP paid @SKDK (BIDEN adviser ANITA DUNN’s firm) for advice until late 2019,” Vogel tweeted.

He further explained, “NSO GROUP also paid BEACON GLOBAL STRATEGIES (a firm started by JEREMY BASH, an MSNBC analyst who served as CIA & Pentagon chief of staff under OBAMA) until early 2020, @NSOGroup told me last yr. It said @SKDK & Beacon Global ‘provided communications & business strategy advice.’”

“NSO Group has retained TOM CLARE to attack the investigation as ‘speculative & baseless.’@TAClare’s boutique defamation firm @clarelockellp also has represented the Russian oligarch OLEG DERIPASKA, Project Veritas (vs the @NYTimes) & Dominion Voting Systems, among other clients,” Vogel wrote.

These political connections were not referenced in the Washington Post investigation.

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NSO Group later put out a statement condemning the investigation as mostly “baseless” and continued to defend its reputation in the face of this accusation.

“Simply put, NSO Group is on a life-saving mission, and the company will faithfully execute this mission undeterred, despite any and all continued attempts to discredit it on false grounds,” NSO said. “Your sources have supplied you with information that has no factual basis, as evidenced by the lack of supporting documentation for many of the claims.”