An investigation by a consortium of media organizations, has revealed that Israeli-designed spyware was used to hack journalists and activists around the world.
Thirty-seven smartphones owned by journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women connected to slain Saudi journalist Jama Khashoggi were targeted, CNN reports.
With regards to this development, one of the media organizations The Washington Post, published on Sunday that the phones were “on a list of more than 50,000 numbers that are concentrated in countries known to engage in surveillance of their citizens” and are known to be clients of the company, NSO Group, whose Pegasus spyware is ostensibly licensed to track terrorists and major criminals.
After an investigation carried out with the help of Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based journalism nonprofit organization, they “were able to identify more than 1,000 people spanning more than 50 countries through research and interviews on four continents:
several Arab royal family members, at least 65 business executives, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, and more than 600 politicians and government officials — including cabinet ministers, diplomats, and military and security officers. The numbers of several heads of state and prime ministers also appeared on the list.”
According to the Post, the phone numbers of reporters working overseas for CNN, The Associated Press, Voice of America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, France’s Le Monde, the UK’s Financial Times and Qatar’s Al Jazeera are among the numbers that appear on the list, which dates to 2016,
Meanwhile, for some undisclosed reasons, the newspaper did not name the reporters in its story. The Post reported that “the list does not identify who put the numbers on it, or why, and it is unknown how many of the phones were targeted or surveilled.”