Israeli spyware company NSO is re-acquired by its founders

JERUSALEM — An Israeli software firm known for its phone-surveillance technology says it has been re-acquired by its founders.

The NSO group announced Thursday that U.S.-based private equity firm Francisco Partners sold the company to its management.

The company did not reveal terms of the deal, but Israeli media said the transaction valued NSO at $1 billion. NSO was sold in 2014 to Francisco Partners for $130 million.

NSO says it sells its technology to friendly governments to help them stop militants and criminals. But critics say it has sold its spyware to governments with questionable human rights records.

An AP investigation this week found signs the company has used undercover agents to try to target and discredit individuals who have raised alarm about the spyware's use. NSO has denied involvement.

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