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Season 01: Episode 06

Shoot the Messenger: Espionage, Murder and Pegasus Spyware continues with its sixth episode, breaking down the private equity funds behind the makers of Pegasus.

The NSO Group has grown from a few founders working in a renovated chicken coop to being valued at over $2 billion dollars. Where did that money come from? We dive into the complex financial web behind the NSO Group, with a structure supported by pension funds, potential clients, and power players, and how they went from being valued in the billions to being strapped for cash.

Shoot the Messenger is hosted by Rose Reid and Nando Vila and is a production of Exile Content Studio.

Guests: Financial Times’ Kaye Wiggins; Keshet journalist Amitai Ziv; Oregon activist Sravya Tadepalli

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ROSE REID: In midtown New York, between the bright lights of Times Square and the iconic Carnegie Hall lie a cluster of skyscrapers. This neighborhood is home to the theater district, an old part of Manhattan that has a mix of both fancy and old school office buildings, filled with restaurants, bars and cafes – all walking distance to Central Park.12

One of these buildings holds the New York office of the private equity firm Berkeley Research Group3 – better known as BRG – that became the managing operator of the private equity fund that owns the majority stake of the NSO Group.4

I imagine that it was in a conference room – with a large wooden table and floor to ceiling windows overlooking 7th Avenue where Shalev Hulio made his plea for a desperately needed cash infusion.5

By October of 2021 – the NSO Group co-founder had been running his company for more than a decade. He had seen its annual revenue grow to the hundreds of millions – and then decline to the tens of millions. He’d seen the company’s majority shareholders change hands several times – from an Israeli venture capital firm to an American private equity firm, and then to a British private equity firm. By the time of this meeting, it was the American-based BRG who was reluctantly in charge.6

BRG had been brought in to manage the fund created by the British private equity company after THAT British firm internally imploded. An anomaly in the private equity sector – and the fallout is still ongoing.

BRG didn’t exactly choose to invest in the company that makes Pegasus. They never invested in the NSO Group – they were simply assigned to manage the fund. And so this group didn’t choose Shalev Hulio either.7

It’s in front of this group that Shalev makes a desperate pitch.

His company is in crisis and they are facing problems on all fronts:

  • There’s the legal side with the WhatsApp lawsuit,8 and the Apple lawsuit.9
  • There’s the PR issues – more journalists and dissidents are alleging that they were targeted with Pegasus spyware.
  • There’s the political side – western countries are closing their doors to the NSO Group – and the list of potential new clients is shrinking.
  • And then there’s the technical side – they still have to have keep Pegasus active for their current clients – the manpower required to keep Pegasus updated is significant, and it takes the best in class IT professionals to keep it going – which means a big cash flow to support such an expensive labor force.

And that’s what brings Shalev Hulio to a conference room in New York – he needs money to make payroll.10

He knows that if he can sell Pegasus to new clients – the countries that his ethics committee have already flagged as ‘elevated risk’ – that he can make more money.11

But he needs BRG’s approval to sell to clients like that.

They say no. With all the problems NSO has right now, that option seems too risky.

But it’s also risky to miss a debt repayment. And the NSO Group is carrying a big debt.

So what choice does BRG have?

They reach a decision – and they give this bold CEO a $10M loan.12

Now, Shalev Hulio can now make his payroll for November 2021.

Less than a year later, the loan remains unpaid and Shalev Hulio steps down as CEO.

How did the NSO Group go from being valued in the billions to being strapped for cash?

That answer is complicated. The lack of transparency behind our modern globalized economy often means that many everyday working people have savings that are unknowingly invested in a company like the NSO Group. In fact if the NSO Group does goes under the ripple effects could impact ordinary Americans – How did we get here?

KYLE McLORG: Even if you are in a place that you believe is safe, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re safe from NSO’s technology.
NATALIA KRAPIVA: The industry has become really a Wild West. There is no oversight. And so this is really a bigger problem.
MEDIA CLIP: If Facebook and Amnesty International win their cases against NSO, it could be a victory in the battle to protect people’s privacy.13

NANDO VILA: This is Shoot the Messenger, a new biweekly investigative reporting podcast from EXILE Content Studio.

Every season, we investigate one international news story. You may have heard the headlines; this is the deep dive. I’m Nando Vila.

ROSE: And I’m Rose Reid. When Nando and I started reporting on this project we had one question: what is the biggest threat to journalists today?

NANDO: When we put up a bulletin board and stuck a pin for every journalist threatened or assassinated in the past 5 years, we found one repeating link over and over. From Mexico, to DC, to the United Arab Emirates: Pegasus.

Over the course of ten episodes, we’re doing a special partnership with the Committee to Protect Journalists for our first season, “Espionage, Murder, and Pegasus Spyware.”

AMITAI ZIV: I’m pretty sure that NSO, as a company in this structure, cannot go for a long time. This debt is now in danger region and we are not sure if they will be able to to pay it back.
JOHN RUSSELL: We approve this proposed investment for €200 million.
SRAVYA TADEPALLI: Every retiree that I met, said, ‘no, I do not want my dollars to be invested in a company that’s actively suppressing unionization in authoritarian nations.’
KAYE WIGGINS: It’s really, really hard to blow up a private equity business.The whole blowup has had massive consequences for NSO as well. And it’s kind of hard for me to sort of overstate this. This is a thing that doesn’t happen in private equity.

NANDO: As we’ve covered in previous episodes, The NSO Group co-founders didn’t start out with a grand plan to be at the forefront of spyware.14

But, in a twist of fate, they have made the most infamous espionage software to date. Over the last ten years, the NSO Group has managed to beat-out or outlast major competition. The NSO Group and its Pegasus spyware has been instrumental in fueling the growth of a multi billion dollar industry, and perhaps an even bigger shadow economy in its wake.

When best friends from high school Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie started their new venture- in the late 2000s,15 cyber security was a budding industry measured in the millions. Today, the cyberwarfare industry and the mercenary companies that support it represent more than $43 billion dollars.16 And those are just the reported numbers.

ROSE: The NSO Group has grown from a few founders working in a renovated chicken coop, to being valued at over $2 billion dollars.1718

Where is that money coming from and what does it represent? What is inside this financial web?

This is Episode 6: How Ordinary Americans are Supporting the Makers of Pegasus

NANDO: One of our goals is to connect the dots between a lot of the ambitious and investigative reporting on Pegasus and the NSO Group in one series. The financial web that supports the NSO Group is a crucial piece in the puzzle. Where does all this capital investment come from?

You can’t talk about Pegasus or the NSO Group without talking about money.

ROSE: The growth experienced by the NSO Group over the course of one decade reflects the growing demand for – and prevalence of – Pegasus spyware.

The much stricter debt requirements that came about after the financial collapse of 2008 made it much more difficult for startups to get loans directly from banks.

At the same time, the extremely low interest rates of the last 14 years sent money managers of large pools of cash, like pension funds, searching for alternative investments to make them sufficient returns on their investments.19

This explains the explosion of venture capital dollars flooding the private equity markets since NSO was founded in 2010.20

If we rewind to the early years, the NSO Group was valued at about $6M in 2010.21 Just four years later, Francisco Partners, a California-based American equity company bought a 70% majority for $130M,22 making the total valuation of the NSO Group around $185 million dollars in 2014.

AMITAI: This is how venture capital is working, right? You make bets on many companies, and nine out of ten doesn’t succeed: bankrupt. They’re closed. But one is so successful that it’s returning the whole venture. So this is the mathematics of venture capital. You need to have those outliers in your portfolio in order to be successful VC.

ROSE: You may remember Amitai Ziv from a previous episode.

AMITAI: My name is Amitai Ziv. I’ve been a tech journalist for 15 years now and I’ve been writing a lot about cybersecurity. Most of the years I was working for Haaretz Group. And in the last year, I’ve been working with a big broadcaster here in Israel that is called Keshet. I was also a partner in the Pegasus Project, which included journalists all around the world that were jointly investigating NSO.23

NANDO: Amitai has covered the NSO Group’s rise from its chicken coop startup to Tel Aviv unicorn.

AMITAI: So at the end who bought the company was Omri and and Shalev themselves with a new private equity fund from Britain that is called Novalpina. It was like, huge deal and they took a big debt. This debt is now, how do you call it, like, in danger region, and we are not sure if they will be able to to pay it back.24

ROSE: Novalpina created a British private equity fund that purchased the majority share of the NSO Group in 2019.

But – how did they get the capital for what was estimated to be a billion dollar deal?

MICHAEL LANGDON: Starting with a review of investment commitments that were approved at the committee level since the last reconvened.

ROSE: This recording is from the November 2017 Oregon Investment Council meeting. This group oversees the investments of all the state’s trust funds.25 The council meeting opens reviewing the investment commitments the group approved at the last meeting before moving on to hear new investment pitches.

The Oregon Council members are “fiduciaries” – they are responsible for overseeing this massive portfolio that includes more than 300,000 beneficiaries.2627

NANDO: If you work for the state of Oregon (say as a teacher or firefighter) – your pension fund is managed by this council.

SRAVYA: A pension fund basically is a fund that is invested in order to provide pensions for public sector employees.

NANDO: This is Sravya Tadepalli. Sravya was born and raised in Oregon. She’s a student at the Harvard Kennedy School, getting a masters in public policy. Both of her parents have pensions in the Oregon Pension Fund – also Sravya has contributed to her own pension when she was a state employee for 2 years.

SRAVYA: There is a fiduciary responsibility that the Oregon State Treasury has to make investments based on what they believe is going to generate the highest returns for the retirees.
MICHAEL: The private equity committee approved a $250 million commitment to Roark Capital Partners five.28
SRAVYA: Public sector employees are typically schoolteachers, professors, employees of the state government, city government, they’re your firefighters. Police officers.

ROSE: Sravya’s parents started their pensions when they were working at Oregon State University (over 20 years ago).

NANDO: The state of Oregon has been investing in private equity as part of the portfolio of its state pension fund.29

Over the past 20 years, the Oregon Pension Fund has seen steady growth, and it has had a high ranking in comparison to its peers.30

ROSE: The council has several key members, including the state treasurer, a few members appointed by the state governor, and the director of a separate agency that oversees the Public Employees Retirement System, or PERS for short.

The Council meets eight times a year. Meetings are open to the public which is why we have this zoom audio.

Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement Fund closed 2022 with a value of $91.9 billion. We’re talking about a lot of money.31

This group determines how that money will be invested.

They decide who and what to invest in. Like many large investment funds, the Oregon Trust Fund portfolios have a mix of safer investments and riskier investments.

MICHAEL: It’s my pleasure to introduce our first agenda, this morning, our first manager presentation, the recommendation from Novalpina Capital Partners One. They’re currently targeting up to €1,000,000,000 for their initial partnership to pursue value oriented, complex investment opportunities in the European middle market. Um, and we’re fortunate this morning to be joined by two of the founders, Steven Peel and Stefan Koski, so with that I will turn the floor over to them.

ROSE: Riskier investments can have a big reward. In November 2017, the council heard a pitch for an investment from Steven Peel and Stefan Koski, two of the three founders of a new private equity fund, Novalpina. Stephen Peel speaks first:32

STEVEN: Let me give you our backgrounds just to start. Three of us between ourselves, have over 48 years experience in international private equity. This is a concentrated portfolio, 7 to 9 investments, enough diversification to manage risk, but enough concentration that we need to protect our investments carefully.

NANDO: Stephen and Stefan walk the council through their strategy for how their new company will be successful, and then wrap up their presentation. The council asks questions.

JOHN: Obviously, with a new firm, the fundamental question is. Will this team stay together?

ROSE: One council member asks – “Will this team stay together?” In 2017, there’s no way to know how prescient this question is.

STEVEN: Yeah, seriously, we are highly committed. All three of us, we’re personally ambitious, driven people by nature and absolutely committed to making this a success.

NANDO: The council thanks the Novalpina founders for their time, waits for them to leave, and then discusses the merits of investing in this new firm.

Novalpina’s fund will have many investments and bets that it will make – so they are essentially asking the Oregon council to trust in their abilities to make these decisions.

Will Oregon invest in the founders, knowing that they won’t have a say over what investments Novalpina will make? Can they trust them?

MICHAEL: It’s a controlled risk, but it’s a risk.

JOHN: I’d like to suggest that we make the motion that we approve this proposed investment for €200 million. I’d also say kudos to the staff. And I’m very comfortable with this investment.

ROSE: The council decides to make a $233 million dollar investment in Novalpina in 2017.33

It’s this investment – from the Oregon pension fund – that provides the three new founders of Novalpina, a brand new private equity company, with a portion of the funds that they will use to buy the majority share in a company called the NSO Group.

Oregon doesn’t have a direct stake in NSO – it has an indirect investment through Novalpina.

And in a strange twist – these two companies – both the NSO group and Novalpina – find themselves on parallel paths to possible self destruction.

How does an Israeli startup founder’s debt involve the state of Oregon’s pension fund?

KAYE: To me, the thing that’s been very interesting about covering this story is just how it shows how like ordinary people’s pensions, how their money has ultimately been invested in this manufacturer of spyware, which is an extremely controversial company for lots of reasons. And to me, it’s a really telling kind of insight into the global economy today and how it works.

NANDO: Kaye Wiggins writes about private equity for the Financial Times.

KAYE: My name’s Kaye Wiggins. I’m the private capital correspondent at the Financial Times, based in London. I write about finance and Wall Street and the City of London and kind of investments. I guess I’m interested in stories about power and the use of power. And I feel like finance is a really important way of telling those stories, because the world of money and the world of power are very closely connected.34

ROSE: Kaye Wiggins has been covering the NSO Group’s story for the last two years. Her focus is on the business side.

On this series while we’ve been following the thread of Pegasus spyware – how it works, how it’s used (or misused) – there’s this whole other side of this business, of this industry.

And in Kaye’s reporting, she asks, “What story does NSO Group’s finances tell us?”

KAYE: It’s kind of crazy when you think about it, because, like, so ultimately the people who own this company in the end are like public pension funds in America and, you know, Mubadala Capital, which is an Abu Dhabi state owned fund and, you know, Centrica Pension Fund, which is the parent company of British Gas., groups of institutions that you wouldn’t associate with, an Israeli spyware manufacturer that was extremely controversial.35

And so the point at which I first really became involved in reporting this story was 2021, when there was the kind of huge blow up at the private equity firm that owns a majority stake in NSO Group. It was a kind of crazy story about, yes, it’s very difficult to blow up a private equity firm, you know, the way that that happened was kind of fascinating to me, and the whole blowup has had massive consequences for NSO as well.

ROSE: For the layman, what is private equity?

KAYE: So private equity is essentially a model of investing. So you get a group of people together to raise a fund and they will go around sort of knocking on the doors of pension funds or large institutions that have big sums of money that they want to invest and get a return on. The people who work at a private equity firm will say, “hey, we’re great investors, we’re great at buying companies and selling companies. If you allocate some of your money to us, we’ll turn it into more money by using it to buy companies and then sell them on for more than we bought them for,” and they do that using leverage, using debt. And so part of the way that they make their money comes from the way that they also use debt to buy those companies. In a kind of a similar way to the way that people, you know, would borrow to have a mortgage to buy a house. The people who work at the private equity firm keep a really quite large share of the profits that they generate by doing that. And then the pension funds and other institutions also kind of make some money when that goes well.

ROSE: During the reporting of this project – learning about the investment made by the Oregon pension fund seemed shocking. But the more we’ve learned, the more we realized that this investment is an allegory for the way that global money is interconnected.

In 2017 when the Oregon public employment retirement system makes an investment in the Novalpina founders, Oregon was already invested in the California-based company Francisco Partners. And at that time, Francisco Partners owned the majority share of the NSO Group, which it had acquired for $130 million in 2014.

Then in 2019, Oregon’s “investment” in NSO was essentially transferred to the British private equity fund managed by Novalpina – when Novalpina’s fund acquired NSO – it was valued at a billion dollars.

KAYE: It’s really common for large institutions to allocate some of that money to private equity funds and for those funds to go out and use it to buy companies. That’s a very standard part of the world economy, and it has been growing very rapidly, particularly over the last ten years or so, because interest rates have been so low. So there was nothing unusual about these pension funds putting their money into a private equity fund. What’s unusual is that that private equity funds then use that money to buy, you know, a maker of spyware hacking products that have become so controversial.

NANDO: What we’ve learned over the course of reporting this story is that the maze of private equity in today’s modern global economy is a big part of the NSO Group story.

KAYE: It’s probably worth getting to know the company in question, the private equity firm in question a bit better, because it is a really interesting back story. There was a company called Novalpina Capital, which is a private equity firm that was set up by these three guys, these three guys called Stephen Peel, Stefan Koski and Bastian Lukin. And these three are all sort of dealmakers. They go out and look for companies to buy that they think they’ll be able to sell on in a few years time for more money. And by 2017, they get together and they set up this new company of their own called Novelpina.

ROSE: Let’s do a recap – Novalpina started raising money for its new fund in 2017.

After Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in 2018, the NSO Group denied that Pegasus was used on Jamal Khshoggi or his relatives.

By the time Novalpina’s fund purchased the majority share of the NSO Group in 2019, Citizen Lab had already confirmed Pegasus was on the phone of Omar Abdulaziz, a friend and colleague of Khashoggi.

KAYE: At the point at which the Novalpina guys come in and decides that their fund will, will buy it, you know, that was after the death of Jamal Khashoggi and it was after questions had already been started to be raised about the kind of potential involvement of NSO and of Pegasus in the hacking of the phones of people that he knew. So, you know, they must have known at that point that they were getting into a difficult situation, I think at that point that their thinking was, we can see that Pegasus is a product for which there is clearly demand, and we think we can manage some of the risks involved. And, you know, this is going to set us apart as investors, and we can make this work really well.

NANDO: Throughout 2019, after the Novalpina team had taken over the management of NSO Group, WhatsApp, Apple, and Omar Abdulaziz all filed lawsuits against the NSO Group. And they’re not the only ones.

Then in 2020, the NSO Group gets a few new customers. They begin to sell Pegasus to Poland, Hungary and India.36

Meanwhile – back in Oregon – people are starting to look more closely at this investment.

SRAVYA: The Oregon State Treasury has a contract with the private equity firm for legal reasons, they can’t just pull out the money, because of some ongoing lawsuits involving Novalpina it’s not possible for them to do that until that is resolved.

ROSE: To further complicate matters for NSO, around 2020, 2021 things got rocky for the three founders of Novalpina.

In the Zoom video that we heard earlier in the episode, Steven Peel told the Oregon Investment Council that each Novalpina founder would have an equal vote in deciding on the investments they make for their equity funds. Peel said he believed this approach would keep the three partners unified.

But it was that equal partnership that ultimately caused irreconcilable differences.37

KAYE: They get together, they start this new fund. And basically what happens is that the three of them fall out in a really big way and they’re disagreeing over what investments to make. They’re disagreeing over just all sorts of things. And it gets to a point where, you know, they just can’t work together anymore, these three guys.

ROSE: And do we know what the root cause is?

KAYE: They just had a deadlock. They couldn’t make investment decisions together anymore. The underlying causes of that. You know, who knows? Right. We weren’t in the room. You can imagine the questions of status and ego might play into these types of battles.

ROSE: And how did that impact the NSO group?

KAYE: So just at the time when the Pegasus project has come out and NSO is in the headlines again, behind the scenes, there’s also this kind of total chaos at the private equity firm that owns NSO. It’s interesting. I write about private equity all the time, all day. It’s my full-time job and it’s really, really hard to blow up a private equity business. Right? But this is one way to do it. Just by falling out so badly that your investors decide they don’t want you running their money anymore because you can’t work together. So what happens is this all comes to a head and there’s this long, tense video call. And the investors on this call, they listen to all three of the guys as they each present their case and they basically say we can’t see a way in which you can carry on managing this money. We’re going to oust all of you and we’re going to bring in some outsider and help them manage the fund instead. And it’s kind of hard for me to sort of overstate this. This is a thing that doesn’t happen in private equity. Right. This is so unusual for your own investors who’ve given you their money to invest, to say “We’re kicking you out here.” It’s just not a thing that really happens in the industry at all. It’s so unusual. But that’s what happens here. The investors vote overwhelmingly to get rid of Novalpina as the manager of the fund. These pension funds, they decide that they kind of realize that they have to put somebody else in charge of managing this money, right? The funds that exist, the private equity fund, they’ve put their money into, it still exists. It still owns all of these companies. It still owns NSO. And so they’re looking around and they come across this US based consultancy firm called Berkeley Research Group. It’s not an enormously well-known name, but it does have a combination of things that made it quite attractive to the investors. It employs sort of specialists in cybersecurity. And it also has a business that is a specialist in managing private equity funds. And the pension funds say, “Okay. BRG is in charge of managing this fund.”

NANDO: This takes us back to the very beginning of our episode, to the fall of 2021 – when Shalev Hulio visits BRG – the group that has been assigned to oversee Novalpina’s fund.

The NSO Group’s CEO needs a cash infusion desperately. And at that meeting, BRG provided a $10 million loan to NSO so that it could make payroll.38

KAYE: At that point, the future of NSO lies in selling to less risky customers and turning around in that way, so that’s the plan. But then very soon after that happens, NSO suffers this kind of like a body blow, basically, which is when the US Commerce Department puts it on a blacklist. And that means that no US company can sell to NSO group without a waiver, and a waiver can be quite a difficult thing to get. So given at that point that the NSA was using like Dell and Intel for its servers and was using Windows operating systems, you know, suddenly being on a US blacklist is extremely damaging.

So American companies can’t sell to NSO Group anymore unless they got a waiver. So yeah, that means if even you know, you can’t even you can’t even buy a pencil from an American pencil manufacturer at that point.

ROSE: A few months after BRG gives Shalev Hulio a $10M loan to make payroll, in April 2022 there was a court case between BRG and the NSO Group in London – an example of continued turbulence. Amidst the pages of legal jargon in the court filings – there was something unusual39

KAYE: One thing that comes out of it that’s very interesting and it’s very important is there’s a line in some of the court filings in which BRG basically say they have concluded that NSO Group is valueless to the fund that BRG is managing. That’s a really important moment in all of this. This is the people in charge ultimately of managing the fund that owns NSO Group, saying from an equity point of view, from the point of view of these pension funds, this investment is worth zero to them now.

NANDO: In the case of the Oregon pension fund, people like Sravya are a part of an organized effort that is pushing a bill forward that would add a clause to an existing law that would add a ‘human right’s factor’ to the investment making decisions of State funds.40

SRAVYA: I think what’s really important is that there is this conception that all public employees care about is how much money ends up in their pocket. And what I’ve learned about through this process is that every retiree that I met, every union member that I met, every public sector worker said, no, I do not want my dollars to be invested in a company that’s actively suppressing unionization in authoritarian nations, every single one.

ROSE: At this point, one of the best options for the NSO Group is to find a new buyer41 – and they start looking in the US.42 Here’s Amitai Ziv:

AMITAI: People are leaving NSO. And now we have the biggest problem, which is regulation because US listed NSO in the dark list. And now NSO cannot sell to any American customers. And even not to approach to to American banks for money and is now blacklisted in the country and here in Israel because I believe of the Pegasus research that we did, there was for the first time a major shift in the regulation.

NANDO: In November 2021, just a month after Shalev Hulio received his loan for payroll, the US State Department blacklisted the NSO Group – it had a huge impact on the company.43

AMITAI: As we speak NSO is trying to sell her assets or the company as a whole and to some other then defensive company. There were rumors about Harris in the United States states. But for me, I’m pretty sure that NSO, as a company in this structure, cannot go for a long time.

ROSE: What started out as a gangbuster darling of the tech and cyber spyware industry has taken a downward spiral to the point where NSO’s future is completely unknown.

Last summer, Shalev Hulio stepped down as CEO.44 And at the time of this episode airing, BRG divested some of its assets – including the NSO Group – to TREO Capital Advisors, which is being run by the former managing director of BRG.45

Coming up on this series, we dig deeper into the state of the NSO Group, what it is like to be infected with Pegasus, and a leak that has 50,000 phone numbers on it.

NANDO: On the next episode of Shoot the Messenger, we look at how the NSO Group has become a bargaining chip in Israel’s increasingly complicated foreign relations.

SCOTT STEDMAN: It’s unclear if NSO themselves or any of their affiliates have sold to private clients. They have affiliate companies that do different things. But a lot of what they focus on is geolocation.
MEHUL SRIVASTAVA: Because Netanyahu is the one who championed this policy of using Israeli weapons, including Pegasus, as a way to warm up relations with security allies like Saudi Arabia.
AMITAI: Sometimes NSO’s Pegasus is starting to operate almost on the same date that Netanyahu is visiting some country.

ROSE: That’s on the next episode of Shoot the Messenger.

Special thanks to the reporting by Kaye Wiggins from the Financial Times – you can find her on Twitter @kayewiggins, kayewiggins. And special thanks to the reporting by Amitai Ziv of Keshet. You can find him on twitter at @amitaiz – that’s amitaiz.

Follow Shoot the Messenger on Apple Podcasts. And, if you can, leave a written review – it actually really helps other people find us. And, if you haven’t already, share it with a friend.

NANDO: Shoot the Messenger is a production of Exile Content Studio.

We are distributed by PRX.

Hosted by me, Nando Vila and Rose Reid. Produced by Rose Reid, with Sabine Jansen, Nora Kipnis, and Ana Isabel Octavio.

Written by Rose Reid. With story editing by Gail Reid.

Production assistance by Jesse Wright-Mendoza, Alvaro Cespedes, Andrea Zevallos, and Stella Emmett.

Daniel Batista oversees audio at Exile Content Studio.

Sound design and mixing by Pachi Quinones.

Executive producers are myself, Rose Reid, Carmen Graterol, and Isaac Lee.

Special thanks to Rodrigo Jimenez.

For more information on the status of journalists and freedom of the press – visit the Committee to Protect Journalists at cpj.org.

To learn more about EXILE, our other podcasts and films, visit www.exilecontent.com.

We want to hear from you – so find us on Twitter and Instagram @exilecontent.

Or, send us a voice memo with your questions about Pegasus to stm@exilecontent.com.