FBI chief: We bought NSO's Pegasus to do counterintelligence

FBI Director Wray claimed that the FBI never used NSO's Pegasus software.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on "Threats to the homeland" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2017.  (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on "Threats to the homeland" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2017.
(photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday publicly explained to the US House Intelligence Committee that his agency had purchased NSO Group's Pegasus cell phone hacking program in 2019 in order to conduct counterintelligence.

Wray started off by saying, "the FBI has not and did not use the NSO products operationally in any investigation. I can confirm that we bought a limited license for testing and investigation. We routinely evaluate technologies that are out there: what are the security concerns raised by those products?

Asked why the FBI would test such a product if there was no intention to use it, Wray responded, "we test and evaluate all sorts of technology products that if it was in the wrong hands can be used against our agents."

The purpose would be to enhance the FBI's "counterintelligence security perspective that bad guys can use against our people."

An aerial view shows the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel, July 22, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)An aerial view shows the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel, July 22, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Questioned if he would promise to never use NSO's technology in the future, Wray responded, "we decided not to use it, even before the current brouhaha," referring to a long list of scandals that have hit NSO since July 2021.