DEA met with controversial spyware company NSO Group.
DEA met with controversial spyware company NSO Group.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) held a meeting with controversial surveillance company NSO Group, the Israeli surveillance technology firm responsible for creating the Pegasus spyware.

Sometime before January 2015, WestBridge, the U.S. sales arm of NSO, contacted the DEA and was able to set up a meeting with the DEA's Office of Special Intelligence (NS) to conduct a demonstration of their technology/product, according to emails obtained by Vice's Motherboard via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. NSO co-founder Omri Lavie was in attendance.

An email from Willard Bond Wells Jr., deputy assistant administrator at the Office of Special Intelligence, also implied that another section of the DEA "worked" with WestBridge.

It is unclear whether NSO or not WestBridge sold any products but the meeting suggests the agency may be interested in obtaining spyware technology.

NSO Group technology made headlines yesterday when, researchers at The Citizen Lab revealed that two prominent lawyers representing the families of three slain Mexican women were sent messages laced with Pegasus malware in September and October 2015. NSO Group has been criticized in the past after its technology was used to target pro-democracy activist Ahmed Mansoor in August 2016 yet a spokesman from the firm said the spyware is only sold to governments under signed agreements to be used in a lawful manner