City seeks new weapon against 1st Amendment activists: Israeli spy technology that can hack your phone

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton and the LPD could soon have a new tool to utilize in the city’s ongoing First Amendment crackdowns.

According to a Facebook post by activist James Woodhead, the council read a resolution last night that would allow LFUCG to purchase Israeli spy software from a company linked to other repressive governments.

According to Reuters, last year, Cellebrite said it would no longer sell to Hong Kong and China after its technology was used by police to hack into the phones of opposition figures and demonstrators. In 2021, it halted sales to Russia and Belarus, but Cellebrite did not respond to a request for comment about its business activities in Vietnam (A new investigation reveals that Cellebrite sells its digital forensics tools to a Vietnamese ministry known for persecuting bloggers, journalists and religious and ethnic minorities) or South Africa.

In 2020, LPD officers brutalized a protest leader in a targeted attack, and Woodhead tried to step in and deescalate things. Cops weren’t happy and performed a lethal chokehold on Woodhead. Using the move in a KHSAA wrestling match would have been cause for immediate disqualification. Instead of intervening, another officer appeared to taunt Woodhead with a white supremacist hand gesture.


It was no problem for LPD, though. They released edited bodycam footage and released a flash statement to the media claiming nothing naughty occurred. The edited bodycam footage has since been made private, for some reason, but the clear, overwhelming photographic evidence of the chokehold is still out there.

If Gorton has her way, LPD will soon get a new toy to cover up these types of abuses: super fancy Israeli spy technology to illegally unlock activists’ phones. Next time a chokehold is inconveniently recorded on camera, officers could simply arrest the person who took the photo, unlock their phone using their new espionage app, and erase or photoshop over whatever they don’t want the public to see.

Obviously this would violate numerous local, state, and federal laws, but given LPD’s history of targeting protest leaders and activists, it seems unlikely the illegality of these acts would be a sufficient deterrent.

Who’s paying for the espionage app? That’s right: Fayette County taxpayers 💸

Our take

CM David Kloiber should start leading now and have this shady government contract killed.

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