AP Exclusive: Undercover spy exposed in NYC was 1 of many

Mazen Masri, an academic and a consultant to the legal team suing the NSO Group in Israel over alleged abuses involving its spyware, poses for a photograph in a pedestrian underpass leading to King’s Cross Station in London on Monday, Jan. 27, 2019. He is among half a dozen people who have been approached by undercover operatives on false pretexts over the past two months. All six have crossed paths with the NSO Group in some way. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter)

The Associated Press has identified a total of six people who have been approached by undercover operatives on false pretexts over the past two months, in an apparent bid to discredit their research about an Israeli company that makes smartphone hacking technology used by some governments to spy on citizens.

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The people targeted by operatives include three lawyers involved in lawsuits in Israel and Cyprus alleging that the company, the NSO Group, sold its spyware to governments with questionable human rights records. The others include two researchers and a journalist who have written about the company.

NSO Group did not return messages seeking comment. The group has previously said it had nothing to do with undercover efforts "either directly or indirectly."

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