Occupied Palestine (QNN)- Spyware from the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group was detected on the mobile phones of six Palestinian human rights activists, in the first known instance of Palestinian activists being targeted by the military-grade Pegasus spyware.
The human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) Front Line Defenders (FLD) shared the data they collected with the Citizen Lab and Amnesty International’s Security Lab for separate independent peer review of their initial findings. FLD’s analysis indicated that six devices belonging to six Palestinian human rights defenders were hacked with Pegasus.
The use of Pegasus spyware against journalists, rights activists and political dissidents from Mexico to Saudi Arabia has been documented since 2015.
The spyware gives intruders access to everything a person stores and does on their phone, including real-time communications. It even turns the infected device into a spying device by using its mic.
It is not clear who placed the NSO spyware. Three of the hacked Palestinians work for civil society groups. The others do not, and wish to remain anonymous, Frontline Defenders says.
Among those hacked is Ubai Aboudi, a 37-year-old economist and US citizen who runs the Bisan Center for Research and Development in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. The group is one of the six slapped with terrorist designations by Israel last month. Also, researcher Ghassan Halaika, of the Al-Haq rights group.
Also, among those targeted, Salah Al Hammouri, a Palestinian-French Lawyer and human rights defender, who has been recently revoked his permanent residency status in Jerusalem based on a “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel.”
The administration of US President Joe Biden last week blacklisted the NSO Group and a lesser-known Israeli competitor, Candiru, for developing and supplying spyware to foreign governments “that used these tools to maliciously”.