JERUSALEM (AA): Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman indirectly approached former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2015 with a view to purchasing Israeli eavesdropping cybertechnology, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Wednesday.
According to the newspaper, an individual who said he represented bin Salman (who was serving as Saudi deputy crown prince at the time) phoned Barak (who had served as Israeli PM from 1999 to 2001), saying he wanted Barak’s help in acquiring Israeli cybertechnology that would allow the Saudi regime to eavesdrop on telephone conversations.
In a recording of the 2015 conversation reportedly obtained by Haaretz, the caller, the newspaper says, “offered Barak a role in a company he had established, while also mentioning several Israeli firms whose technology interested the Saudis”.
In a statement, Barak, who at different times has also served as Israel’s foreign minister and defense minister, claimed that he “rebuffed the offer made in the phone call, which had originated from the United Arab Emirates”.
According to Haaretz, the caller also told Barak about an “interesting business opportunity” and went on to mention a meeting in Dubai that had taken place several weeks earlier with Saudi officials.
The caller also reportedly said he enjoyed the trust “of the two men in line behind the king” — an apparent reference to bin Salman and his brother, Khalid. In his statement, Barak asserted that he had “never dealt in weapons, military systems or defense systems at any stage of his business activities”.
Even though the proposed deal does not appear to have ever materialized, Saudi officials have nevertheless continued to show an interest in Israeli cybertechnology.
Last year, Haaretz reported that Saudi officials had held talks with Israel’s NSO Group Technologies, whose development headquarters are located in the Israeli city of Herzliya.