Saudi Arabia came close to buying Hacking Team

The Saudi Arabian government came close to buying control of Italian surveillance software company Hacking Team, notorious for selling its product to undemocratic regimes, according to hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks.

The negotiations were handled by Wafic Said, a Syrian-born businessman based in the U.K. who is a close friend of the Saudi royal family, and also involved Ronald Spogli, a former U.S. ambassador to Italy, who had an indirect investment in Hacking Team.

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The deal collapsed in early 2014 after the removal of Prince Bandar bin Sultan as head of the Saudi intelligence service. The former Saudi ambassador to Washington had backed the purchase but it was not supported by his successor.

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