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24 May 2019

Ronald J. Deibert, The Citizen Lab

Citizen Lab letter to South Yorkshire Pensions Authority regarding Novalpina Capital Investment Fund

I am reaching out to you in light of the South Yorkshire Pensions Authority (the “Authority”)’s widely-reported investment in a fund raised by private equity firm Novalpina Capital and issues surrounding the abusive deployment of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. As you know, Novalpina Capital recently acquired a majority stake in NSO Group, an Israeli offensive cybersecurity company that has produced spyware implicated in the abusive targeting of human rights defenders and civil society. Further, I understand that the Authority intends to meet with Novalpina Capital next week to discuss issues around human rights due diligence and NSO Group.

In light of your investment and upcoming meeting with Novalpina Capital, I would like to highlight Citizen Lab’s research into the use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to target human rights defenders and civil society. I would also like to underline that our questions to Novalpina Capital regarding such abuses remain largely unanswered.

At this time, we (along with international human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Privacy International, Access Now, and R3D) are not satisfied that Novalpina Capital intends to engage in substantial, comprehensive, and meaningful reforms to acknowledge and remedy past abuses of Pegasus spyware and to ensure that no further such abuses occur. In addition to providing you with the information below, I would be willing to explain in more depth our research methodology and findings regarding NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

... Research by the Citizen Lab provides empirical evidence that NSO Group’s technology has been used abusively and illegally to spy on civil society, human rights defenders, and journalists, among other targets...