Constitution, Law and Justice Committee Chairman Simcha Rothman called on Thursday for a special hearing of the NSO Pegasus scandal in light of evidence on Monday being withdrawn from a Haifa area double murder case because it was illegally obtained by police with spyware.
In a series of hearings in which a 2021 report on police spyware use was presented to the Law Committee, it was found that illegally collected information had not been given to investigators and presented as evidence in court.
The evidence withdrawn on Monday had been collected from the stored data on computers, and included in the police investigation file, given to prosecutors and submitted as evidence to the Haifa District Court proceedings.
"The withdrawal of the evidence in the case of the double murders of Shafa and Salah Abu-Hassan from Baqa al-Gharbiyye due to evidence obtained through spyware in violation of court orders clearly contradicts what is alleged in the [Deputy Attorney-General Amit] Merari report and what the State Attorney's Office reported to the Law Committee," Rothman wrote on Facebook. "The latest discovery and what was revealed raises real concerns that false information was provided."
Rothman said the hearing would be convened at the beginning of next week.
Investigation of spyware use
The State Attorney's Office said on Monday that it had only just discovered the legally dubious evidence in its investigation of spyware use. Since February 2022 it had examined 27 cases in which spyware was used to access computer data beyond what had been permitted by judges, but this the first case in which the illegally collected data was presented at court.
Police and prosecutors have been criticized for their purchase and use of spyware against over 1080 targets from 2015-2021. The malware allowed the illegal harvesting of information from phones, contacts, applications, and call and chat histories.
Some of the use of the software was beyond the expiry date of warrants. Critics have argued that the use of the spyware goes beyond the powers of the Wiretapping Law, which allows for the use of physical devices to intercept active communications between two phones. Some, like the Public Defender's Office, argue that the use of spyware by police is unregulated is an infringement on individual rights and privacy.