Erdogan: Turkey not backtracking on S-400 deal with Russia

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would not withdraw from a deal made with Russia to buy an S400 missile defense system. (Presidential Press Service via AP)
Updated 04 June 2019
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Erdogan: Turkey not backtracking on S-400 deal with Russia

  • ‘We have made an agreement (with Russia). We are determined. There is nothing like backtracking from that’

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday Turkey would not withdraw from a deal made with Russia to buy an S-400 missile defense system despite pressure from the United States.

“We have made an agreement (with Russia). We are determined. There is nothing like backtracking from that,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency.

Ankara’s desire to buy the Russian S400 system has been a major source of contention between NATO allies Turkey and the United States, which has threatened sanctions.

Last week, a top Pentagon official said the consequences would be “devastating” for Turkey’s joint F-35 fighter program and its cooperation with NATO if the country goes ahead with plans to buy the Russian missile defense system.

Kathryn Wheelbarger, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, said Ankara’s planned purchase of the S-400 would damage Turkey’s ability to work with the Western alliance, and force Washington to hit the country with sanctions.

She said that the US administration, even if it does not want to punish Turkey for the purchase, could be forced to do so by a Congress unsympathetic to Ankara.

Turkey has defied the mounting pressure and said the purchase was a “done deal.”

Erdogan on Wednesday spoke with US President Donald Trump by phone and, according to the Turkish leader’s office, they discussed Ankara’s previous offer to form a “joint working group” on the missile system.


Israel spyware firm can mine data from social media: FT

Updated 19 July 2019
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Israel spyware firm can mine data from social media: FT

  • An Israeli cybersecurity company has developed spyware that can scrape data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft products
  • Pegasus harvests not only data stored on a device, but also any information stored in the cloud, including a user’s location data, archived messages and photos

JERUSALEM: An Israeli spyware firm thought to have hacked WhatsApp in the past has told clients it can scoop user data from the world’s top social media, the Financial Times reported Friday.
The London paper wrote that NSO group had “told buyers its technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, according to people familiar with its sales pitch.”
An NSO spokesperson, responding in a written statement to AFP’s request for comment, denied the allegation.
“There is a fundamental misunderstanding of NSO, its services and technology,” it said.
“NSO’s products do not provide the type of collection capabilities and access to cloud applications, services, or infrastructure as listed and suggested in today’s FT article.”
In May, Facebook-owned WhatsApp said it had released an update to plug a security hole in its messaging app that allowed insertion of sophisticated spyware that could be used to spy on journalists, activists and others.
It said the attack bore “all the hallmarks of a private company that works with a number of governments around the world.”
It did not name a suspect but Washington-based analyst Joseph Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said at the time that the hack appeared related to the NSO’s Pegasus software.
It is normally sold to law enforcement and intelligence services.
Friday’s FT report, citing documents it had viewed and descriptions of a product demonstration, said the program had “evolved to capture the much greater trove of information stored beyond the phone in the cloud, such as a full history of a target’s location data, archived messages or photos.”
NSO says it does not operate the Pegasus system, only licensing it to closely vetted government users “for the sole purpose of preventing or investigating serious crime including terrorism.”
The group came under the spotlight in 2016 when researchers accused it of helping spy on an activist in the United Arab Emirates.
NSO is based in the Israeli seaside hi-tech hub of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. It says it employs 600 people in Israel and around the world.
Pegasus is a highly invasive tool that can reportedly switch on a target’s cell phone camera and microphone, and access data on it, effectively turning the phone into a pocket spy.
“Increasingly sophisticated terrorists and criminals are taking advantage of encrypted technologies to plan and conceal their crimes, leaving intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the dark and putting public safety and national security at risk,” the company statement said.
“NSO’s lawful interception products are designed to confront this challenge.”