Digital payments are the default for millions of women of childbearing age. So what will their credit and debit card issuers and financial app providers do when prosecutors seek their transaction data during abortion investigations?
It’s a hypothetical question that’s almost certainly an inevitable one in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade last week. Now that abortion is illegal in several states, criminal investigators will soon begin their hunt for evidence to prosecute those they say violated the law.
Medical records are likely to be the most definitive proof of what now is a crime, but officials who cannot get those may look for evidence elsewhere. The payment trail is likely to be a high priority.
HIPAA — which governs the privacy of a patient’s health records — permits medical and billing records to be released in response to a warrant or subpoena.
“There is a very broad exception to the HIPAA protections for law enforcement,” said Marcy Wilder, a partner and co-head of the global privacy and cybersecurity practice at Hogan Lovells, a law firm. But Ms. Wilder added that the information shared with law enforcement officials could not be overly broad or unrelated to the request. “That is why it matters how companies and health plans are interpreting this.”
Card issuers and networks like Visa and Mastercard generally do not have itemized lists of everything that people pay for when they shop for prescription drugs or other medications online, or when they purchase services at health care providers. But evidence of patronage of, say, a pharmacy that sells only abortion pills could give someone away.
a new state law authorizes residents to file lawsuits against anyone who helped facilitate an abortion.
“With the ruling only coming down late last week, it’s premature to understand the full impact at the state level,” Brad Russell, a USAA spokesman, said via email. “However, USAA will always comply with all applicable laws.”
American Airlines Credit Union, Bank of America, Capital One, Discover, Goldman Sachs, Prosperity Bank USA, Navy Federal Credit Union, US Bank, University of Wisconsin Credit Union, Wells Fargo and Western Union did not return at least two messages seeking comment.
American Express, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo have all announced their intentions to reimburse employees for expenses if they travel to other states for abortions. So far, none have commented about how they would respond to a subpoena seeking the transaction records of the very employees who would be eligible for employer reimbursement.
Amie Stepanovich, vice president of U.S. policy at the Future of Privacy Forum, a nonprofit focused on data privacy and protection, said warrants and subpoenas can be accompanied by gag orders, which can prevent companies from even alerting their customers that they’re being investigated.
“They can choose to battle the use of gag orders in court,” she said. “Sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t.”
In other instances, prosecutors may not say exactly what they’re investigating when they ask for transaction records. In that case, it’s up to the financial institution to request more information or try to figure it out on its own.
Paying for abortion services with cash is one possible way to avoid detection, even if it isn’t possible for people ordering pills online. Many abortion funds pay on behalf of people who need financial help.
But cash and electronic transfers of money are not entirely foolproof.
“Even if you are paying with cash, the amount of residual information that can be used to reveal health status and pregnancy status is fairly significant,” said Ms. Stepanovich, referring to potential bread crumbs such as the use of a retailer’s loyalty program or location tracking on a mobile phone when making a cash purchase.
In some cases, users may inadvertently give up sensitive information themselves through apps that track and share their financial behavior.
“The purchase of a pregnancy test on an app where financial history is public is probably the biggest red flag,” Ms. Stepanovich said.
Other advocates mentioned the possibility of using prepaid cards in fixed amounts, like the kinds that people can buy off a rack in a drugstore. Cryptocurrency, they added, usually does leave enough of a trail that achieving anonymity is challenging.
One thing that every expert emphasized is the lack of certainty. But there is an emerging gut feeling that corporations will be in the spotlight at least as much as judges.
“Now, these payment companies are going to be front and center in the fight,” Ms. Caraballo said.
MADRID — NATO leaders will formally invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance on Wednesday after Turkey lifted its veto on their membership, NATO’s secretary-general said Tuesday evening, clearing the way for what would be one of the most significant expansions of the alliance in decades.
The historic deal, following Turkey’s agreement to a memorandum with the two Nordic countries, underscored how the war in Ukraine has backfired for President Vladimir V. Putin, subverting Russian efforts to weaken NATO and pushing Sweden and Finland, which were neutral and nonaligned for decades, into the alliance’s arms.
After weeks of talks, capped by an hourslong meeting in Madrid, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey agreed to lift his block on Sweden and Finland’s membership in return for a set of actions and promises that they will act against terrorism and terrorist organizations.
“As NATO allies, Finland and Sweden commit to fully support Turkey against threats to its national security,” NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, providing some details of the agreement. “This includes further amending their domestic legislation, cracking down on P.K.K. activities and entering into an agreement with Turkey on extradition,” he added, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party which seeks an independent Kurdish state on territory partly within Turkey’s borders.
Mr. Erdogan had been blocking the Nordic countries’ NATO bids amid concerns over Sweden’s longtime support for the P.K.K. which has attacked nonmilitary targets and killed civilians in Turkey, is outlawed in that country and is designated by both the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization.
But the memorandum does not specify the extradition of any of the 45 people or so Mr. Erdogan wanted sent to Turkey to face trial on terrorism charges. Sweden has already passed tougher legislation against terrorism that goes into effect July 1.
Both Finland and Sweden had been militarily nonaligned for many years, but decided to apply to join the alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. With Russia attacking a neighbor, both countries felt vulnerable, though Sweden, with a long tradition of neutrality, was more hesitant.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia warned both countries against joining NATO, but his threats proved counterproductive.
The two countries bring geostrategic benefits to the alliance. Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia and has a well-equipped modern army; Sweden can control the entrance to the Baltic Sea, which will help a great deal in NATO planning to defend the more vulnerable countries in Eastern Europe.
The final push to resolve the dispute started early Tuesday morning, when President Biden called Mr. Erdogan to urge him to “seize the moment” on the eve of the summit, to allow discussions on other topics to proceed, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the discussion.
The official, who requested anonymity to discuss private deliberations, said the president conveyed the substance of his conversation with Mr. Erdogan to the leaders of Finland and Sweden. And after several hours of negotiations later that night, the two Nordic leaders consulted with Mr. Biden again before announcing the agreement with Turkey.
The American official said that the deal between Turkey and the two Nordic countries involved a series of compromises on both sides, including the statement by Turkey welcoming Finland and Sweden to apply and issues involving an arms embargo imposed on Turkey and Turkey’s belief that Finland and Sweden had offered safe havens to groups they considered terrorists.
American officials had for days played down Mr. Biden’s role in the negotiations, saying he would not be a broker between the other countries and insisted that it was up to Turkey, Finland and Sweden to resolve their differences.
After the agreement was announced Tuesday night, the senior administration official conceded that it was considered more diplomatic to publicly minimize Mr. Biden’s involvement. Doing so prevented Turkey from seeking concessions from the United States for agreeing to lift its veto, which might have complicated the discussions, the official said.
The next steps for Finland and Sweden are clear: NATO will vote on Wednesday to accept their applications. There will also be a quick study of their defense capacities and needs. But the talks are expected to be routine, since both countries are NATO partners and have exercised together with NATO allies.
The more difficult last step requires the legislatures of all 30 current members to vote to amend the NATO founding treaty to accept the new members. That has in the past taken up to a year, but is expected to be much quicker for the Nordic countries.
The U.S. Senate is already pressing ahead with hearings on the application and Mr. Biden has been a firm proponent of the new members.
Johanna Lemola contributed reporting from Helsinki, Finland.
Spain likely to push for more shared intelligence, sources
Families making dangerous crossings from Africa to Canaries
Morocco clamping down on migration after deal with Spain
Migrant deaths in Melilla highlight dangers, NGOs say
MADRID/LAS PALMAS, June 27 (Reuters) – Spain is shifting its foreign policy towards Africa while lobbying the EU and NATO for support to address migration from the continent, aggravated by the Ukraine invasion, two senior government officials and two diplomatic sources told Reuters.
Spain will use a NATO summit in Madrid this week to press its case, and is likely to ask for increased intelligence sharing by the alliance including on issues related to migration, the diplomats said.
Even before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez had revived a strategy mothballed by previous governments of working with African partners to contain migration and to tackle root causes such as instability and climate change, two officials close to him said.
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That drive has now taken on more urgency, they added.
“We are looking for good relations with all the neighbours around us and jointly managing phenomena that no one, not even the most powerful state on the planet, can deal with on its own,” Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares told Reuters. He declined to give details.
Spain, its southern neighbours and EU officials are increasingly alarmed that a hunger crisis worsened by the disruption of Ukraine’s grain exports will trigger chaotic migration from the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions of Africa, with numbers already on the rise this year, the sources said.
On Friday, at least 23 migrants died after clashes with Moroccan security forces when around 2,000 people tried to cross into Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla. Morocco in recent weeks has toughened containment measures following Spain’s new diplomatic approach. read more
Migration by sea to the Canary Islands, another risky but popular entrance point into Europe, jumped 51% between January and May this year compared to last year, Spanish data showed, with the busiest period of the year still to come.
Spain is used as a gateway to Europe by migrants from other continents, including Africa and Latin America. Although it is largely a transit country, previous jumps in arrivals have put its border resources under intense pressure.
Albares said the new strategy, which has seen Sanchez visit nine African countries since last year, was designed to keep migrants from danger.
“We cannot allow the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, to become enormous watery tombs where every year thousands of human beings die when all they aspire to is a better life,” Albares said.
Human rights groups and migration advocates, however, say Spain’s quest to outsource enforcement puts vulnerable people in the hands of security forces in countries with a history of abuses and heavy-handed policing.
The deaths in Morocco “are a tragic symbol of European policies of externalizing the borders of the EU,” groups including the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and Spanish migration charity Walking Borders said in a joint statement on Saturday.
Sanchez’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
In a sign of its growing anxiety, Madrid hopes to secure a commitment at the NATO summit to better policing of “hybrid threats,” including the possibility irregular migration is used as a political pressure tactic by hostile actors. It will also lobby NATO to dedicate resources to securing the alliance’s Southern Flank. read more
Madrid will ask NATO for “allied intelligence sharing,” including on issues related to migration, a senior Spanish diplomatic source and an EU diplomat said. This could formalise and expand on existing intelligence cooperation.
At the summit, NATO will reinforce cooperation efforts with southern countries and agree a package for Mauritania to help “the fight against terrorism, border control and strengthening its defence and security,” NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told newspaper El Pais at the weekend.
Migrants wait to disembark from a Spanish coast guard vessel, at the port of Arguineguin, in the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, May 7, 2022. REUTERS/Borja Suarez
The expanded NATO presence could see Mauritania, which works closely with Spain, help coordinate with other countries in the Sahel region, said Felix Arteaga, senior defence analyst with Madrid’s Elcano Institute, a think tank.
Foreign Minister Albares declined to give details on how NATO could expand operations in Africa.
NATO sources and academics signal that Spain’s proposals will face resistance amid conflicting needs from countries such as Russia’s vulnerable neighbours in the Baltic States. read more
Spain says the growing influence of Russia in unstable countries including the Central African Republic and Sahel nation Mali risks fuelling insecurity to the south of Europe. read more
Citing the presence of Russian military contractors in Mali, the blockade of grains exports from Ukraine and Moscow ally Belarus’ policy last year of allowing migrants into the EU, Madrid says President Vladmir Putin could use migration and hunger as part of his war effort.
“Putin wants to use food crisis to orchestrate a repeat of migration crisis of the magnitude we have seen in 2015-16 to destabilise the EU,” one European Union official told Reuters.
Moscow denies responsibility for the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions that limit its own exports of grains for a jump in global prices.
Russia’s foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
FUNDING FOR THE SAHEL
In recent weeks, Sanchez has held a flurry of bilateral meetings with heads of state and officials from Nigeria, Morocco and Mauritania to discuss economic cooperation, human trafficking, capacity building for controlling borders and the fight against terrorism.
In June, the government sent to parliament a new development bill to channel funding to the Sahel. The legislation would mark a significant expansion of existing funding for migration control to eight African countries.
Italy too has sought to enlist support, with the government earlier hosting a meeting of southern European nations to push for a post-Ukraine migration policy that distributes arrival numbers more evenly throughout Europe. read more
People are already on the move. Data from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) shows departures from the Sahelian nation of Niger in the first four months of this year have risen by 45%, and from neighbouring Mali they have doubled.
The rise has not yet been reflected by arrivals to European shores.
A Reuters review of data from European border and coast guard agency Frontex showed migrant numbers arriving in the Canary Islands from the Sahel region of Africa and below it, from Guinea, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, rose in the first five months of 2022 compared to the same period last year.
Whole families are increasingly making the trip to the Atlantic islands in fragile rubber dinghies from as far south as Senegal and Guinea, citing insecurity, climate change and, in more recent cases, high food prices, said Jose Antonio Rodríguez Verona, a Red Cross official in the Canary Islands.
Morocco remains the biggest origin country and transit point for migrants to Spain, with record numbers of Moroccans reaching the Canary Islands in January and February this year.
Those figures however fell by 85% in March and April from the previous two months, according to figures from Frontex, after Spain changed its policy on the disputed Western Sahara to align with Morocco’s stance. Albares has attributed the drop directly to the change of policy.
“I would like to thank the extraordinary cooperation we have with the Kingdom of Morocco,” Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez said on Saturday, after the deaths in Melilla, which he blamed on human trafficking gangs.
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Reporting by Belen Carreno, Joan Faus and Borja Suarez, additional reporting Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels, Emma Farge in Geneva, Ed McAllister in Dakar, Ahmed El Jechtimi in Rabat, editing by Aislinn Laing and Frank Jack Daniel
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said during a surprise trip to Ukraine on Tuesday that a veteran prosecutor known for investigating former Nazis would lead American efforts in tracking Russian war criminals.
Mr. Garland’s visit, part of scheduled stops in Poland and Paris this week, was intended to bolster U.S. and international support in helping Ukraine identify, apprehend and prosecute Russians involved in war crimes and other atrocities.
His overseas travel comes at a particularly tense moment in his tenure at the Justice Department, on a day of dramatic congressional testimony about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that prompted many Democrats to renew their call for him to prosecute former President Donald J. Trump and his allies.
Mr. Garland met for an hour with Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, in the village of Krakovets, about a mile from the border with Poland, to discuss the technical, forensic and legal support that the United States could provide, department officials said.
“The United States is sending an unmistakable message” to those who have committed atrocities, Mr. Garland said: “There is no place to hide.”
“We will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable,” he added.
After the meeting, Mr. Garland said he was tapping Eli Rosenbaum, the former director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, to create a war crimes accountability team that would work with Ukraine and international law enforcement groups.
Mr. Rosenbaum, 67, is best known for his work for the World Jewish Congress in the 1980s investigating the hidden history of Kurt Waldheim, a former United Nations secretary general whose army unit was implicated in war crimes against Jews and Yugoslavian partisans during World War II.
His work, during a 36-year career in the department, and in stints outside government, earned him the nickname “Nazi hunter” from historians, a sobriquet he dislikes.
In the department’s criminal division, Mr. Rosenbaum has also been instrumental in the prosecution and deportation of Nazis living in the United States and Jews who committed atrocities against their own people in concentration camps. In recent years, his portfolio has taken on a broader mission, as former Nazis die off, and now includes a wider array of human rights cases, at home and abroad.
The new team will include Justice Department staff members and outside experts. In addition to offering assistance to Ukrainian officials, the department said in a statement that Mr. Rosenbaum would investigate “potential war crimes over which the U.S. possesses jurisdiction, such as the killing and wounding of U.S. journalists covering the unprovoked Russian aggression in Ukraine.”
This line of work is, in a sense, part of Mr. Rosenbaum’s family business. His father, Irving, escaped Dresden in 1938, the year of the Kristallnacht attacks against Germany’s Jewish population, joined the U.S. Army, eventually served in an intelligence unit that interrogated German soldiers — and collected information at the Dachau concentration camp.
Mr. Rosenbaum was set to retire before Mr. Garland asked him about a week ago to lead the new unit. He agreed immediately, according to a senior Justice Department official with knowledge of the exchange.
The department is also assigning additional personnel to expand its work with Ukraine and other partners to counter Russian use of illicit financial methods to evade international sanctions — detailing a Justice Department expert to advise Ukraine on fighting kleptocracy, corruption and money laundering, officials said.
“We will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable,” added Mr. Garland, whose own family immigrated to the United States after fleeing antisemitic pogroms in Eastern Europe in the early 1900s.
After stopping in Poland, Mr. Garland flew on to Paris, where he was scheduled to join the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, in a series of bilateral meetings with European counterparts to discuss efforts to combat terrorism and carry out a strategy of holding Russia accountable for its brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Mr. Garland and Ms. Venediktova last met in May in Washington.
In April, Mr. Garland and the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said they would work with investigators and prosecutors in Ukraine, a signal that the Biden administration intended to follow through on its public condemnation of atrocities committed by Russian forces that have been documented during the war.
His team has also been working with the State Department to provide logistical support and advice to Ms. Venediktova and the leaders of other ministries in Ukraine.
“We’ve seen and have determined that a number of war crimes have been committed by Russia’s forces,” Beth Van Schaack, the State Department’s ambassador at large for global criminal justice, said at a briefing in Washington last week.
“What we are seeing is not the results of a rogue unit,” she added, “but rather a pattern and practice across all the areas in which Russia’s forces are engaged.”
Over the last few weeks, a number of the thousands of foreign volunteers who flocked to join the fight against Russia have gone missing or have been captured.
Last week, two Britons and a Moroccan who were taken prisoner while fighting for the Ukrainian armed forces were sentenced to death in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine, after being accused of terrorism.
This week, two Americans fighting with a group of foreign soldiers went missing in action near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which is about 25 miles from the Russian border. Their families fear they have been captured, having disappeared after the platoon came under fire.
The missing and captured fighters have focused attention on the thousands of largely unregulated volunteers in Ukraine, only some of whom have been accepted into the Ukrainian Army’s International Legion.
The platoon that the missing Americans belonged to was one of dozens of loosely organized volunteer outfits that have absorbed foreign veterans, including many Americans. The volunteers have proved to be both valuable assets and at times an unruly problem for Ukraine, and present a potentially difficult challenge for their home governments if they are caught or captured.
On Friday, President Biden said that he had been briefed on the two Americans reported to be missing in Ukraine, and that the administration does not know of their current location.
“I want to reiterate: Americans should not be going to Ukraine now,” he said.
The International Legion, formed after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine issued a call in late February for foreigners to help fight, is considered the most selective of the foreign groups.
Damien Magrou, a French-Norwegian lawyer who is the spokesman for the Ukrainian military’s International Legion, said in an interview in April that he felt the war had “struck a chord” among many American veterans.
“There are also a lot of American vets who feel they can make a difference because the U.S. has been involved in a lot more conflicts in the last 20 years than European countries,” he said.
Mr. Magrou, a corporal in the legion’s structure, said accepted volunteers are now required to have combat experience, no records of dishonorable behavior, and no membership in extremist groups. Other groups are not as selective, he said.
Mr. Magrou said he encourages volunteers rejected by the legion to take a shuttle bus provided by the military back to the Polish border. But, he added, “they are legally in the country and we can’t force them to do anything.”
Russia maintains that some of foreign fighters it has captured are mercenaries and not entitled to protection as prisoners of war under international law. A local court in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region found that the two British and one Moroccan fighters, who had immigrated to Ukraine, were guilty of “training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities” and that they undertook their activities “for a fee.”
It remains unclear what missions were carried out by the group whose American members went missing, or who in the Ukrainian armed forces or the government oversaw them and gave them orders.
The American veterans who are missing are Alex Drueke, 39, a former U.S. Army staff sergeant who served in Iraq, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, a former Marine, family members said. They disappeared when their platoon came under “heavy fire” in a village on June 9, leading all its members to fall back except for the two of them, according to a statement sent by Mr. Drueke’s family. Reconnaissance by foot and drone did not turn up any sign of the two soldiers, the statement said.
The Geneva Conventions, which govern the law of war and which Russia has signed, specify that captured volunteer fighters can also be considered prisoners of war. The primary definition of a mercenary under international law is someone fighting primarily for financial gain who is paid substantially more than local armed forces.
Those who join the International Legion are paid the same amount as their Ukrainian military counterparts. They receive a basic salary, equaling about $630 a month, with bonuses that can reach several thousand dollars a month.
Some fighting with other groups are given one-time payments to defray their expenses, while others are unpaid.
Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne, an associate professor of law at the University of Bristol, said that even volunteer fighters not embedded in the Ukrainian military would be entitled to P.O.W. protection if they are openly carrying arms while fighting.
The Samara Metallurgical Plant, a sprawling complex in southwestern Russia that spans an area the size of a dozen city blocks, is a cornerstone of Russian industry. It is the country’s largest supplier of aluminum commercial and industrial products.
It is also a source of critical parts for the Russian warplanes and missiles that are now tearing through Ukraine. And atop its edifice, spelled out in giant blue letters, is the name of its American owner: Arconic, a Pittsburgh-based, Fortune 500 company that is one of America’s largest metalworking firms even after splitting out from the industrial giant Alcoa in 2016.
Arconic does not make weapons. But its sophisticated forges are among a handful of machines in Russia that can form lightweight metals into large aerospace parts like bulkheads and wing mounts.
Under an agreement with the Russian government, the company has from the start of its operations at Samara, in 2004, been legally required to supply the country’s defense industry as a condition of operating a plant whose mostly nonmilitary output has proved tremendously lucrative.
Even as Russia turned its military toward ever more aggressive ends around the world and the relationship between the United States and the Kremlin soured, Arconic maintained the Samara operation, despite the growing legal and political complications of operating there.
Now, however, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine polarizing the world, Arconic’s leadership has found that its business at Samara is, finally, unsustainable.
Though there is no indication that Arconic is in breach of American or other Western sanctions, those penalties have made it difficult to keep the plant supplied and operating. But shutting down production could expose its employees there to jail time under Russian laws on maintaining strategic production. And Russia has already cut off Arconic’s access to profits from the Samara plant.
“The conflict in Ukraine has made our continued presence in Russia untenable, which led to our decision to pursue a sale,” Timothy Myers, Arconic’s chief executive, said in a written statement on Friday.
Company documents acquired by The New York Times, along with financial filings and other public materials, reveal Arconic’s struggles to keep the plant running. The documents were provided by a whistleblower employee who objected to Arconic’s continued involvement in Russia even after the invasion of Ukraine.
On Wednesday, the day after The Times approached Arconic with details of its work in Russia, its board approved a plan that, according to internal documents, had been under internal consideration for weeks: to sell the plant outright. The company announced this decision on Thursday.
But any sale remains hypothetical, as the company does not yet have a buyer. And finding one would require regulatory approval at the highest levels from both the United States and Russia.
That is perhaps fitting, as those governments had cooperated to pave the way for Arconic’s ownership of Samara in the first place.
Now, the long-coming divorce, accelerated by the war in Ukraine, is proving costly, with European energy consumers and companies like Arconic caught between now-hostile powers.
“The era in which the United States and Russia saw each other as an enemy or strategic threat has ended,” Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir V. Putin announced at a 2002 summit meeting in Moscow. Now, they said, “We are partners,” praising each other as like-minded allies in the war on terrorism.
Mr. Bush encouraged American companies to buy up Russian industries that had fallen into disrepair. Economic integration, it was widely thought, would bind Russia and the West for good.
American corporations snapped up whole factory compounds, once the engines of Soviet power. Moscow welcomed this, believing American financing and know-how might reconstitute Russian industrial might.
The American industrial giant Alcoa joined the gold rush in 2004, buying two complexes in Russia, including the one at Samara. It purchased both factories for $257 million but spent twice that rebuilding Samara, which it found running at one-third capacity.
Within the facility was a nine-story metal behemoth: a huge forge press that had been built right into the foundation, able to form the parts that make up the largest airplanes and missiles. It is one of only a handful like it in the world, including just two in Russia.
“These machines are essential to the defense industry,” Martino Barbon, a representative of the manufacturing firm Gasparini Industries, said, calling them “the backbone” of production.
In an interview, Mr. Myers said that Samara’s giant press had seen little use in recent years. Still, its presence, along with a number of smaller forges, underscores that Samara, like many Soviet-era facilities, had been designed to combine commercial and military work.
When it bought the Samara plant, Alcoa — which split part of its operations, including those in Russia, into the name Arconic in 2016 — did not explicitly seek to become a Russian military supplier. Rather, this was Moscow’s condition for the sale.
That condition remains in force, according to company documents that describe a legal obligation to “manufacture aerospace and defense products” for sale to Russia’s weapons industry.
Mr. Myers — who is now the chief executive and had been among the first employees to visit Samara in the early 2000s — said that the U.S. government knew about Moscow’s terms when it approved Alcoa’s purchase. The company’s Russian subsidiary sells most products through other distributors and therefore Arconic cannot control how those products are used, he said.
But company documents show that Arconic has known throughout that the Samara operation was supplying Russia’s military, even if it was only a small part of the company’s overall business.
Moscow required the company to sign an agreement, as a condition of purchase, that it would pledge to indefinitely supply programs that it deemed essential. Mr. Myers acknowledged these terms in an interview with a Russian news outlet just last year.
“The main condition of the deal,” Mr. Myers said, “was the obligation to ensure uninterrupted supplies” for “state defense and aerospace programs.”
The agreement included a supplemental document, a copy of which The Times acquired, detailing mandatory production contracts.
The file lists more than a half-dozen of Russia’s largest weapons-makers, such as N.P.O. Novator and Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant. Altogether, the companies provide the bulk of Russia’s cruise missiles, ICBMs, attack helicopters, strategic bombers and other hardware.
The file applied to both plants, the second of which Alcoa later sold. But it underscores Russia’s insistence on steady military supplies — and the American company’s willingness to comply.
For Moscow, the greatest benefit may have been modernization: Western financing and know-how brought the plant from derelict to state-of-the-art.
For Alcoa/Arconic, this was the cost of admission to Russia. In financial terms, it paid off handsomely.
Last year alone, Samara brought in nearly $1 billion, accounting for 16 percent of Arconic’s third-party sales worldwide, according to financial filings.
Before long, a string of Russian military interventions, chiefly its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its entry to the Syrian war the next year, transformed Western views of Russia.
Arconic found itself supplying, however indirectly, a Russian military that was now seen as a global threat.
Still, the company remained in Russia.
Moscow was no longer so welcoming. It codified sweeping “antimonopoly” laws allowing it to restrict or expel foreign companies involved in sensitive industries.
American companies became especially likely to face official investigation. This often came with supposedly temporary injunctions that make doing business difficult.
Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace industry consultant, said that Russia has since effectively seized control of many foreign-owned plants through what he termed “oligarchization.”
Rather than outright nationalize those businesses, Moscow coerces them into selling themselves off to Kremlin-linked firms, sometimes for pennies on the dollar. Just this week, the French automaker Renault sold a factory in the country to a Russian government-linked firm for one ruble.
In 2020, Arconic was hit with one such investigation. Russian officials barred Arconic from disbursing its profits from Samara or even restaffing leadership at the Russian subsidiary that runs the plant.
Richard Connolly, a University of Birmingham economist who advises companies on doing business in Russia, called it “very surprising” that Arconic, unlike many other American companies, had not yet been forced out of Russia.
From the Kremlin’s point of view, coercing Samara’s owners to sell the plant, as it has with several other American-owned business over the years, does carry some risk. It could disrupt production at a time when Russia already faces battlefield setbacks. But tolerating Arconic would mean leaving critical infrastructure in the hands of an American corporation.
Dr. Connolly suggested that Russian leaders may still see American knowledge and technology as too critical to lose at Samara, especially as battlefield losses wipe out advanced weapons that, because of sanctions, Russia may struggle to replace.
“They realize they might not be able to produce everything themselves,” he said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in February, forced difficult conversations within Arconic, according to internal documents and the account of a whistleblower employee who asked not to be named because the employee did not have the company’s permission to speak.
At the end of 2021, amid Mr. Putin’s buildup to war with Ukraine, Samara’s forging division had its best quarter on record, reporting an 82 percent increase in production from the prior year. An internal presentation touting the rise listed it under the heading “Aerospace.”
That constituted roughly one percent of the plant’s overall output, making it something of a financial afterthought compared with the rest of the company’s business.
Still, with Russian warplanes and missiles employed in shocking attacks in Ukraine considered to constitute possible war crimes, ethical considerations weighed heavily, according to the employee.
By March, even as sales poured in, Arconic’s leadership was exploring ways to leave Russia entirely, according to internal memos.
But any purchase would require the approval of the Russian government, as well as VSMPO-Avisma, the Kremlin-linked firm with which Arconic had formed a joint partnership.
Selling would also require a license from the Treasury Department to avoid violating sanctions.
Even as Arconic sought an exit, internal documents show that the company went to some lengths to keep Samara running.
As early as March, with shipping companies ceasing operations in Russia, the company began seeking new ways to supply the plant with production materials.
A few weeks later, the company concluded that, because of new sanctions, U.S.- and Europe-based employees could no longer work on efforts to supply the plant with materials, even from abroad.
The company shifted this work to its division in China, where employees were thought to be unconstrained by Western sanctions.
By early May, an internal presentation reported, Samara was hitting “numerous production volume records.” And sales were up: $233 million in the first quarter of 2022, from $195 million the year before. This likely reflected the commercial work that makes up most of Samara’s output, rather than military projects, but it underscored Arconic’s success in keeping the plant spinning at full speed.
Still, the company concluded around the same time, according to Mr. Myers, its chief executive, that the war would continue for a long stretch, and with it both the sanctions and Russian government restrictions constraining Arconic’s ability to operate. Mr. Myers said that moral considerations also factored into Arconic’s decision to seek to leave Russia.
That the partnership between Arconic and Russia ever seemed workable underscores how far the world has moved on from the notion that first brought them together: that economic integration would end a century of Russian-Western enmity and finally secure lasting peace.
Mr. Connolly, the economist, compared Arconic’s stake in Russia to Europe’s decision to build its energy grids atop Russian gas pipelines and oil shipments, which was thought to make conflict unthinkable.
Instead, European energy consumers are effectively funding Russia’s government even as they punish it with sanctions, much as Arconic appears caught up in Russian militarism that Washington had once hoped American investment might temper.
“It’s a really graphic illustration,” Dr. Connolly said, “of the dashed hopes of that era.”
“This spreads like a virus,” Ms. Hochul said, demanding that social media executives evaluate their policies to ensure that “everything is being done that they can to make sure that this information is not spread.”
There may be no easy answers. Platforms like Facebook, Twitch and Twitter have made strides in recent years, the experts said, in removing violent content and videos faster. In the wake of the shooting in New Zealand, social platforms and countries around the world joined an initiative called the Christchurch Call to Action and agreed to work closely to combat terrorism and violent extremism content. One tool that social sites have used is a shared database of hashes, or digital footprints of images, that can flag inappropriate content and have it taken down quickly.
But in this case, Ms. Douek said, Facebook seemed to have fallen short despite the hash system. Facebook posts that linked to the video posted on Streamable generated more than 43,000 interactions, according to CrowdTangle, a web analytics tool, and some posts were up for more than nine hours.
When users tried to flag the content as violating Facebook’s rules, which do not permit content that “glorifies violence,” they were told in some cases that the links did not run afoul of Facebook’s policies, according to screenshots viewed by The New York Times.
Facebook has since started to remove posts with links to the video, and a Facebook spokesman said the posts do violate the platform’s rules. Asked why some users were notified that posts with links to the video did not violate its standards, the spokesman did not have an answer.
Twitter had not removed many posts with links to the shooting video, and in several cases, the video had been uploaded directly to the platform. A company spokeswoman initially said the site might remove some instances of the video or add a sensitive content warning, then later said Twitter would remove all videos related to the attack after The Times asked for clarification.
A spokeswoman at Hopin, the video conferencing service that owns Streamable, said the platform was working to remove the video and delete the accounts of people who had uploaded it.
MOGADISHU, Somalia — In a fortified tent guarded by peacekeeping forces, hundreds of lawmakers elected a new president in Somalia on Sunday, capping a violent election season that threatened to push the Horn of Africa nation toward a breakdown.
The selection of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a former president, in Mogadishu ended a bitter election period marred by corruption, a president’s attempt to cling to power and heavy fighting in the streets. Mr. Mohamud defeated three dozen candidates after three rounds of voting, including President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who drew condemnation after extending his term last year.
The vote, which had been delayed for nearly two years, came amid soaring inflation and a deadly drought that has left almost 40 percent of the country hungry. The streets in Mogadishu, the capital, were closed on Sunday, and the police announced a curfew through Monday morning.
a former U.S. citizen and bureaucrat,who led the country for five years. Mr. Mohamed has been accused of cracking down on the opposition and on journalists, fomenting a rift with neighboring Kenya and undercutting the power-sharing model that buttressed the country’s federal system.
The Shabab, who are linked to Al Qaeda, have exploited the political instability and the bitter divisions between security forces to expand and gain strength, experts said. After more than 16 years, the group now has wide powers: extorting taxes, judging court cases, forcing minors into its ranks and carrying out suicide bombings.
signed a law extending his tenure by two years, fighting broke out in the capital’s streets, forcing him to change course.
Observers said the election of lawmakers last year was rife with corruption.
February and March on Somali officials and others accused of undermining the parliamentary elections, which eventually concluded in late April.
Because of the indirect nature of the presidential vote, candidates did not campaign in the streets. Instead, they met with lawmakers and clan elders in luxury hotels and compounds guarded by soldiers and blast walls. Some aspirants put up election billboards, promising good governance, justice and peace.
But few in this seaside city believe politicians will make good on their pledges.
“Everyone wears a suit, carries a briefcase and promises to be as sweet as honey,” said Jamila Adan, a political science student at City University. “But we don’t believe them.”
government’s infighting and paralysis, many Somalis are asking whether a new administration will make a difference.
Some Somalis have turned to the Shabab for services that would ideally be delivered by a functioning state. Many in Mogadishu regularly travel to areas dozens of miles north of the city to get their cases heard at Shabab-operated mobile courts.
One of them is Ali Ahmed, a businessman from a minority tribe whose family home in Mogadishu was occupied for years by members of a powerful tribe. Mr. Ahmed said the Shabab-run court ruled that the occupiers should vacate his house — and they did.
“It’s sad, but no one goes to the government to get justice,” he said. “Even government judges will secretly advise you to go to Al Shabab.”
according to the World Food Program, with nearly 760,000 people displaced.
according to the United Nations. Aid organizations are not able to reach them there, crops are failing and the Shabab demand taxes on livestock, according to interviews with officials and displaced people.
To find food and water, families travel hundreds of miles, sometimes on foot, to cities and towns like Mogadishu and Doolow in the southern Gedo region. Some parents said they buried their children on the way, while others left weak children behind to save others who were hardier.
Dealing with the Shabab will be among the first challenges facing Somalia’s next government, said Afyare Abdi Elmi, executive director of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu.
But the new leader, he said, needs also to deliver a new Constitution, reform the economy, deal with climate change, open dialogue with the breakaway region of Somaliland and unite a polarized nation.
“Governance in Somalia became too confrontational over the past few years,” Mr. Elmi said. “It was like pulling teeth. People are now ready for a new dawn.”
KRAKOW, Poland — Ukrainian troops, emboldened by sophisticated weapons and long-range artillery supplied by the West, went on the offensive Friday against Russian forces in the northeast, seeking to drive them back from two key cities as the war plunged more deeply into a grinding, town-for-town battle.
After weeks of intense fighting along a 300-mile-long front, neither side has been able to achieve a major breakthrough, with one army taking a few villages one day, only to lose just as many in the following days. In its latest effort to reclaim territory, the Ukrainian military said that “fierce battles” were being waged as it fought to retake Russia-controlled areas around Kharkiv in the northeast and Izium in the east.
The stepped-up combat came as the White House announced on Friday that President Biden would meet virtually on Sunday with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and the leaders of the G7, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
Additionally, President Biden is sending a new security package to Ukraine worth $150 million, according to an administration official, who says it will include 25,000 artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, jamming equipment and other field equipment.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, noted that the leaders would convene as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia prepares to celebrate the annual holiday of Victory Day on Monday with military parades and speeches commemorating the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany.
The holiday has intensified fears in Ukraine and some Western capitals that Mr. Putin could exploit the occasion to expand his Feb. 24 invasion, after his initial drive failed to rout the Ukrainian military and topple the government.
“While he expected to be marching through the streets of Kyiv, that’s actually not what is going to happen,” Ms. Psaki said. She called the G7 meeting “an opportunity to not only show how unified the West is in confronting the aggression and the invasion by President Putin, but also to show that unity requires work.”
Ukraine on Friday urged civilians to brace for heavier assaults ahead of Victory Day in Russia, warning them to avoid large gatherings and putting in place new curfews from Ivano-Frankivsk in the west to Zaporizhzhia in the southeast.
Ukrainian police forces were also placed on heightened alert ahead of the holiday, which will be commemorated in Russia with military parades in Moscow and hundreds of other cities.
Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, warned civilians that they could risk their lives by gathering in crowded places.
“We all remember what happened at the train station in Kramatorsk,” Mr. Denysenko said on Telegram, referring to a devastating missile strike in that eastern city last month, which killed dozens of people as they crowded on railway platforms, trying the flee the invasion.
“Be vigilant,” Mr. Denysenko said. “This is the most important thing.”
The regional governor of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, Sergei Haidai, warned that Russian forces were preparing for a “major offensive” in the next few days against a pair of eastern cities, Severodonetsk and Popsana. He assailed what he called “continued horror” in the region, where he said that the latest Russian shelling had killed two people and destroyed dozens of houses.
The pace of Russian missile strikes across Ukraine has been intensifying in recent days as Moscow tries to slow the flow of Western arms across the country. But as with so many aspects of the war, uncertainty about Mr. Putin’s intentions runs deep.
There is rampant speculation that he might use the upcoming holiday to convert what he calls a “special military operation” into an all-out war, which would create a justification for a mass mobilization of Russian troops and set the stage for a more broad-ranging conflict. Kremlin officials have denied any such plans. But they also had denied plans to invade Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have said that a military draft in Russia could provoke a backlash among its citizens, many of whom, polls show, still view the war as a largely distant conflict filtered through the convoluted and sometimes conflicting narratives provided by state-controlled media.
“General mobilization in Russia is beneficial to us,” Oleksei Arestovych, an adviser to Mr. Zelensky’s chief of staff, said during an interview on Ukrainian television this week. “It can lead to a revolution.”
Some Western analysts speculate that Mr. Putin may instead point to the territory that Moscow has already seized in eastern Ukraine to bolster his false claims that Russia is liberating the region from Nazis.
The Pentagon, for its part, has avoided stoking speculation about Mr. Putin’s Victory Day plans.
“What they plan to do or say on Victory Day, that’s really up to them,” John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said on Thursday. “I don’t think we have a perfect sense.”
Fears that Russia could intensify its assault came as the United Nations Security Council adopted a statement on Friday supporting efforts by the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, to broker a diplomatic resolution to the war.
The statement, initiated by Mexico and Norway, was the first action regarding Ukraine that the council had unanimously approved since the invasion began. Russia supported the statement, which did not call the conflict a “war,” a term the Kremlin forbids.
Mr. Zelensky insisted on Friday that peace talks cannot resume until Russian forces pull back to where they were before the invasion. Still, he did not foreclose the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
“Not all the bridges are destroyed,” he said, speaking remotely at a virtual event held by Chatham House, a British research organization.
Alexey Zaitsev, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Friday that talks between Russia and Ukraine were “in a state of stagnation,” Russian state media reported.
Mr. Zaitsev blamed NATO countries for prolonging the war by shipping billions of dollars in arms to Ukraine, even as those countries have urged Mr. Putin to withdraw his troops.
“This leads to an extension of hostilities, more destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties,” he said.
Mr. Zelensky said that Russian propagandists had spent years fueling “hatred” that had driven Russian soldiers to “hunt” civilians, destroy cities and commit the kind of atrocities seen in the besieged southern port of Mariupol. Much of the city, once home to more than 400,000 people, has been leveled, and it has become a potent symbol of the devastation wrought by Russia in Ukraine.
Mr. Zelensky said Russia’s determination to destroy the last Ukrainian fighters holed up with desperate civilians in bunkers beneath the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol only underscored the “cruelty” that has defined the invasion.
“This is terrorism and hatred,” he said.
On Friday, about 50 women, children and elderly people who had been trapped beneath the Azovstal plant in Mariupol were evacuated in a humanitarian convoy, according to a high-ranking Ukrainian official and Russian state media. The official, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk, said the evacuation had been “extremely slow” because Russian troops violated a cease-fire.
Nearly 500 people have managed to leave the Azovstal plant, Mariupol and surrounding areas in recent days with help from United Nations and the Red Cross, according to Mr. Guterres.
As the fighting drags on, concerns are growing that the war could exacerbate a global hunger crisis.
The United Nations said on Friday that there was mounting evidence that Russian troops had looted tons of Ukrainian grain and destroyed grain storage facilities, adding to a disruption in exports that has already caused a surge in global prices, with devastating consequences for poor countries.
At the same time, the organization’s anti-hunger agency, the World Food Program, called for the reopening of ports in the Odesa area of southern Ukraine so that food produced in the war-torn country can flow freely to the rest of the world. Ukraine, a leading grain grower, had some 14 million tons in storage available for export, but Russia’s blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports has prevented distribution.
“Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full,” said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, while “44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation.”
Marc Santora and Cora Engelbrecht reported from Krakow, and Michael Levenson from New York. Reporting was contributed by Dan Bilefsky from Montreal, Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva, Rick Gladstone from Eastham, Mass., Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington, and Farnaz Fassihi from New York.
KYIV, Ukraine — The Israeli government rejected requests from Ukraine and Estonia in recent years to purchase and use Pegasus — the powerful spyware tool — to hack Russian mobile phone numbers, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
Israel feared that selling the cyberweapon to adversaries of Russia would damage Israel’s relationship with the Kremlin, they said.
Both Ukraine and Estonia had hoped to buy Pegasus to gain access to Russian phones, presumably as part of intelligence operations targeting their increasingly menacing neighbor in the years before Russia carried out its invasion of Ukraine.
But Israel’s Ministry of Defense refused to grant licenses to NSO Group, the company that makes Pegasus, to sell to Estonia and Ukraine if the goal of those nations was to use the weapon against Russia. The decisions came after years of Israel providing licenses to foreign governments that used the spyware as a tool of domestic repression.
Pegasus is a so-called zero-click hacking tool, meaning that it can stealthily and remotely extract everything from a target’s mobile phone, including photos, contacts, messages and video recordings, without the user having to click on a phishing link to give Pegasus remote access. It can also turn the mobile phone into a tracking and secret recording device, allowing the phone to spy on its owner.
In the case of Ukraine, the requests for Pegasus go back several years. Since the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, the country has increasingly seen itself as a direct target of Russian aggression and espionage. Ukrainian officials have sought Israeli defense equipment to counter the Russian threat, but Israel has imposed a near-total embargo on selling weapons, including Pegasus, to Ukraine.
In the Estonian case, negotiations to purchase Pegasus began in 2018, and Israel at first authorized Estonia to have the system, apparently unaware that Estonia planned to use the system to attack Russian phones. The Estonian government made a large down payment on the $30 million it had pledged for the system.
The following year, however, a senior Russian defense official contacted Israel security agencies to notify them that Russia had learned of Estonia’s plans to use Pegasus against Russia. After a fierce debate among Israeli officials, Israel’s Ministry of Defense blocked Estonia from using the spyware on any Russian mobile numbers worldwide.
Israel’s relationship with Russia has come under close scrutiny since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began several weeks ago, and Ukrainian officials have publicly called out Israel’s government for offering only limited support to Ukraine’s embattled government and bowing to Russian pressure.
During a virtual speech to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine criticized Israel for not providing his country with the Iron Dome antimissile system and other defensive weapons, and for not joining other Western nations in imposing strict economic sanctions on Russia.
Invoking the Holocaust, Mr. Zelensky said that Russia’s war was aimed at destroying the Ukrainian people just as the Nazis had wanted destruction for the Jewish people. Mr. Zelensky, who is Jewish, said “mediation can be between states, but not between good and evil.”
The New York Times reported last month that Israeli officials in August rejected a request by a Ukrainian delegation to purchase Pegasus, at a time when Russian troops were massing at the Ukrainian border. On Wednesday morning, The Washington Post and The Guardian, part of a consortium of news organizations called The Pegasus Project, reported that these discussions dated back to 2019, and first reported that Israel had blocked Estonia’s efforts to obtain Pegasus.
A senior Ukrainian official familiar with attempts to acquire the Pegasus system said that Ukrainian intelligence officials were disappointed when Israel declined to allow Ukraine to purchase the system, which could have proved critical for monitoring Russian military programs and assessing the country’s foreign policy goals.
The official said Ukraine’s view was that Israel, in making decisions about licensing Pegasus, gave more weight to a government’s relationship with the Kremlin than its human rights record.
Representatives of the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment. In a statement, NSO said the company “can’t refer to alleged clients and won’t refer to hearsay and political innuendo.”
Both Ukraine and Estonia were once part of the Soviet Union, and since then have had to live in the long shadow of Russia’s military. Estonia is a member of NATO.
Russia plays a powerful role throughout the Middle East, particularly in Syria, and Israel is wary of crossing Moscow on critical security issues. In particular, Russia has generally allowed Israel to strike Iranian and Lebanese targets inside Syria — raids the Israeli military sees as essential to stemming the flow of arms that Iran sends to proxy forces stationed close to Israel’s northern border.
Israel’s government has long seen Pegasus as a critical tool for its foreign policy. A New York Times Magazine article this year revealed how, for more than a decade, Israel has made strategic decisions about which countries it allows to obtain licenses for Pegasus, and which countries to withhold them from.
Israel’s government has authorized Pegasus to be purchased by authoritarian governments, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that have used the weapon to spy on dissidents, human rights activists and journalists in those countries. Democratically elected leaders in India, Hungary, Mexico, Panama and other countries also abused Pegasus to spy on their political opponents.
Israel has used the tool as a bargaining chip in diplomatic negotiations, most notably in the secret talks that led to the so-called Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and several of its historic Arab adversaries.
“Policy decisions regarding export controls, take into account security and strategic considerations, which include adherence to international arrangements,” the Israeli defense ministry said in a statement in response to questions from The Times. “As a matter of policy, the State of Israel approves the export of cyber products exclusively to governmental entities, for lawful use, and only for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and counter terrorism, under end use/end user declarations provided by the acquiring government.”
Since NSO first sold Pegasus to the government of Mexico more than a decade ago, the spyware has been used by dozens of countries to track criminals, terrorists and drug traffickers. But the abuse of the tool has also been extensive, from Saudi Arabia’s use of Pegasus as part of a brutal crackdown on dissents inside the kingdom, to Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary authorizing his intelligence and law enforcement services to deploy the spyware against his political opponents.
Last November, the Biden administration put NSO and another Israeli cyberfirm on a “blacklist” of firms that are barred from doing business with American companies. The Commerce Department said the companies’ tools “have enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent.”
Ronen Bergman reported from Kyiv, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.