Ms. Blair, a human rights lawyer, is paid as an “outside advisor” to NSO Group, a technology company that has developed spyware for remote monitoring of smartphones.
NSO, which is based in Israel, hired Ms Blair following a series of controversies over the deployment of its software by foreign powers and claims it is being used to aid and encourage human rights violations.
Ms Blair established her own law firm, Omnia Strategy, following her husband Tony Blair’s decision to step down as Prime Minister in 2007, attracting international clients across the globe.
Details of Ms Blair’s work for NSO Group were contained in a transparency and accountability report released last week, apparently in the wake of pressure from the company over the use of its cyber software, dubbed as ‘Cyber weapon’ by its detractors.
The report identifies “Cherie Blair leading a team at Omnia Strategy” as “experienced human rights practitioners”. The company said its own compliance and legal teams would work with Ms. Blair and other attorneys “to integrate human rights considerations into NSO’s business, including client interactions and the deployment of NSO products ”.
Ms Blair’s main job appears to be monitoring the use of NSO’s cybersecurity software to ensure that it is not being misused. It is not known how much Omnia Strategy is paid for its work.
The Telegraph previously reported in 2014 that Ms Blair billed around £ 1,000 an hour while working as a legal adviser to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Justice. At the time, Kazakhstan was ruled by its autocratic president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who in turn was advised by Tony Blair.
Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, an organization that has been fiercely critical of NSO, said: “Regarding Cherie Blair, or anyone else who might consider hiring NSO to help her in this theater, the professional reputational risks associated with such a company and its links to widespread human rights violations are enormous.
He said Ms Blair’s track record as a “prominent name played in a noble and principled role” would only “help to cover up and distract” from ONS operations.
NSO’s flagship product is its Pegasus software which allows customers who purchase it to intercept messages using a target’s phone number, without them knowing they are being spied on.
Lawsuit against NSO Group
A lawsuit in Israel by Montreal-based Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz alleges that NSO’s software was used by Saudi Arabia to spy on his phone. The lawsuit alleges that the Saudis could gain access to Khashoggi’s communications that were sent to Mr. Abdulaziz.
Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw in October 2018.
The company has denied any involvement in the death, with founder and CEO Shalev Hulio telling US television, “We have nothing to do with this horrific murder. The company has repeatedly insisted that Khashoggi has never been targeted with its cyber products.
In January 2020, NSO attempted to have the case dropped, but a Tel Aviv court ruled it could go ahead. Khashoggi is said to have exchanged hundreds of messages with Mr. Abdulaziz in the months leading up to his assassination.
NSO is also being sued in California by WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service, which alleged that 1,400 of its users were hacked by the tech company over a two-week period in 2019. It was believed that c was the first time that WhatsApp’s security had been breached.
NSO nie l’implication de Khashoggi
NSO said it sold spyware to government clients and law enforcement agencies to track down terrorists and criminals. A spokesperson said last year in response to the WhatsApp lawsuit: “Our technology is used to save lives and prevent terrorism and crime around the world, and we remain convinced that our conduct is legal.
A company spokesperson told The Telegraph on Saturday: “Many of the issues raised in the investigation are detailed in our transparency and accountability report, including the nature of interactions with our external human rights advisers. ‘man.
“As we have said on several occasions, we categorically deny that our technology was used in the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi and our technology was never used on Jamal Khashoggi, including eavesdropping, monitoring, tracking, collecting information with any NSO Group product or technology, therefore, there is no and never has been any legal action related in any way to this matter. As with any other pending legal action, we cannot comment on pending legal proceedings.
“NSO Group, for reasons of national security, cannot share information regarding countries that use or do not use our products. “
Some of its products, including Pegasus software, may only be sold with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. NSO had previously won a legal battle with Amnesty International which tried to prevent the company from selling its computer software abroad.