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HRW Staff Targeted By ‘Israeli’ NSO Spyware

26 Jan 2022 11:18

Islam Times - Lama Fakih, the US-Lebanese Director of Crisis and Conflict and head of the Beirut office at Human Rights Watch, was targeted with Pegasus spyware five times between April and August 2021.

The Pegasus software was developed and sold by the ‘Israel’-based company NSO Group, which has found itself the topic of great controversy over the past several months and the past week specifically.

The spyware works unnoticeably on people’s mobile phones. Once the tracking party has uploaded Pegasus to the trackee's device, it enables full access to the phone's camera, calls, media, microphone, email, text messages, and location, thereby effectively enabling full digital surveillance of the target as well as their contacts.

“Governments are using NSO Group’s spyware to monitor and silence human rights defenders, journalists, and others who expose abuse,” said Deborah Brown, senior digital rights researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch.

“That it has been allowed to operate with impunity in the face of overwhelming evidence of abuse, not only undermines efforts by journalists and human rights groups to hold power actors to account, but also puts the people they are trying to protect in grave danger.”

NSO’s chairman, Asher Levy, said he was stepping down this Tuesday. However, he denied that the move had any connection to the recent developments, according to The Guardian: “Any attempts to present this move as a present-day resignation as a result of any publication related to NSO are completely false.”

“I am full of appreciation to NSO, the life-saving technology it develops, the company’s management and employees, and the unprecedented ethical policies that the company has adopted,” Levy added.

In a statement on Tuesday, the NSO claimed it was a “profitable company” and believed that an international regulatory structure should be put in place to ensure the responsible use of cyber intelligence tools.

Story Code: 975687

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