17 journalists join RSF’s complaint against NSO over Pegasus spyware

Published August 7, 2021
Pegasus is a spyware developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-arms firm. It can be covertly installed on mobile phones running most versions of iOS and Android. AP/File
Pegasus is a spyware developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-arms firm. It can be covertly installed on mobile phones running most versions of iOS and Android. AP/File

KARACHI: Seventeen journalists from seven countries who were listed last month as potential or actual victims of Pegasus spyware have filed complaints with prosecutors in Paris against the NSO Group.

Their complaints complement the one Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and two journalists with French-Moroccan dual nationality have already filed on July 20.

In addition, the RSF has referred their cases to the United Nations. The organisation had even included NSO Group in its list of “digital predators” last year.

Pegasus is a spyware developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-arms firm. It can be covertly installed on mobile phones running most versions of iOS and Android.

The 17 journalists – two each from Azerbaijan and Hungary, five each from India and Mexico, and one each from Morocco, Spain and Togo – were among the nearly 200 journalists on a list of persons identified last month by the Pegasus Project investigation as potential targets or actual victims of clandestine surveillance by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.

The plaintiffs know, or have serious grounds, for fearing that they were spied on by their governments for having carried out independent reporting in public interest.

A number of the plaintiffs have been facing verbal attacks by their governments for years. Among them are Morocco’s Hicham Mansouri and India’s Swati Chaturvedi, who was awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize for Courage in 2018.

The RSF referred her case to the UN the same year.

Some were even spied on by foreign governments. They include Spain’s Ignacio Cembrero, who was almost certainly the victim of surveillance by the government of Morocco.

“No doubts must remain”

“The complaints filed by these journalists, who are from every continent, confirm the scale of the surveillance carried out with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware,” RSF spokesperson Pauline Adès-Mével said.

“The investigation should identify all those involved, whether company executives or senior government officials in the countries concerned. In the face of a scandal so fraught with consequences for press freedom, no doubts must remain. The veil must be lifted completely and justice must be done.”

The RSF has referred the cases of these 17 journalists to four UN special rapporteurs, asking them to seek explanations from the governments suspected of using Pegasus to spy on journalists.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2021

Opinion

A whiff of hope

A whiff of hope

Despite the old script that has played out in front of us, political events do indicate some changes.

Editorial

Updated 17 May, 2022

Buyer’s remorse

It is strange to hear senior PML-N leaders lamenting the subsidies, yet not even coming up with a subsidy rationalisation plan.
17 May, 2022

Sikh traders’ killing

THE brutal murder of two Sikh traders in the outskirts of Peshawar on Sunday illustrates the vulnerability of...
17 May, 2022

Cholera outbreak

REPORTS of rising cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea in several areas are raising the spectre of a public...
Updated 16 May, 2022

Electoral reforms

EARLY elections or not? That is the question. And it seems to be weighing heavy on the mind of everyone in the...
16 May, 2022

Iran deal revival

WHERE the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 is concerned, a great deal of fluidity exists regarding its fate....
16 May, 2022

Deprived of funds

THIS May, Pakistan’s former Fata region will complete its fourth year of merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The...