The US government has imposed sanctions on the Intellexa Consortium [4], a Greece-based umbrella organization for spyware companies [6], for their involvement in developing and distributing commercial spyware technology [4].


The sanctions target founder Tal Jonathan Dilian and corporate off-shoring specialist Sara Aleksandra Fayssal Hamou [4] [8], along with five entities associated with the consortium [6], including Cytrox AD [2], Cytrox Holdings ZRT [2] [5], and Thalestris Limited [2] [5]. The North Macedonian Cytrox business [6], part of Intellexa [6] [7], is responsible for developing the Predator spyware [6] [8], which allows for zero-click attacks on electronic devices and unauthorized data extraction [2]. The sanctions were imposed due to the misuse of the spyware for human rights abuses and targeting of US government officials [6], journalists [2] [3] [4] [5] [6], and policy experts [2] [3] [4] [5]. This action follows the Biden administration’s crackdown on commercial spyware [6], including placing the NSO Group on a trade blacklist and imposing visa restrictions on individuals [6]. The Treasury Department accused Intellexa of enabling the spread of spyware to authoritarian regimes [3], with Dilian and Hamou using Cyprus as a hub for their cyber-surveillance business [3], exploiting lax regulations [3]. The Predator spyware has been used to surveil high-profile individuals, including the president of the European Parliament and the president of Taiwan [2]. The sanctions bar US companies and citizens from doing business with the named individuals and companies [1], including Intellexa’s founder Tal Jonathan Dilian and business manager Sara Aleksandra Fayssal Hamou [1]. The US government has sought to curb the use of commercial spyware [1], imposing visa restrictions and sanctions on those involved in the industry [1]. The Biden administration vowed to closely monitor Intellexa for any attempts to circumvent the sanctions [1], sending a clear message that irresponsible business practices resulting in human rights abuses will not be tolerated [1]. The US Treasury Department has sanctioned the Intellexa Consortium [2] [4] [5] [8], responsible for developing and marketing the Predator spyware [6] [8]. The sanctioned entities operate in Greece [8], Hungary [6] [8], Ireland [6] [8], and North Macedonia [6] [8], highlighting the role of European firms in enabling human rights abuses [8].


The sanctions imposed on the Intellexa Consortium serve as a warning to other companies involved in the development and distribution of commercial spyware technology. The US government’s actions demonstrate a commitment to holding individuals and entities accountable for human rights abuses and unauthorized surveillance activities. Moving forward, it is crucial for regulatory bodies to continue monitoring and enforcing sanctions to prevent the misuse of spyware technology for nefarious purposes.