An Israeli technology firm specialising in cyber intelligence offered Saudi Arabia a highly advanced system that hacks into mobile phones, months before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a mass purge, according to Haaretz.
The Israeli daily reported on Sunday that representatives from NSO Group Technologies held negotiations with Saudi officials in Austria capital Vienna in June 2017.
The officials were identified as Abdullah al-Malihi, a close aide to Prince Turki al-Faisal – a senior member of the royal family and a former Saudi intelligence chief – and Nasser al-Qahtani, who presented himself as the deputy of the current intelligence chief.
At the time, NSO was avidly promoting its Pegasus 3 software, an “espionage tool so sophisticated that it does not depend on the victim clicking on a link before the phone is breached”, Haaretz reported.
According to the publication, this was not the first meeting between the two sides as they had previously held talks in Cyprus via mediators.
NSO was quoted as saying it acted according to the law and “its products are used in the fight against crime and terror”.
There was no immediate comment from the Saudi authorities.
Read more in Aljazeera.