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22 Okt 2019

Morocco: Human rights defenders harrassed by NSO Group malware as state cracks down on activists

An Amnesty International investigation has discovered targeted attacks against two human rights defenders in Morocco. Maati Monjib, an academic and activist working on issues of freedom of expression, and Abdessadak Ek Bouchattaoui, a human rights lawyer representing protesters in Morocco, were allegedly targeted through NSO Group's "Pegasus" software. The malware can be installed through SMS messages containing links which, if clicked, connect the phone to websites connected to Pegasus.

The harrassment comes as the civic space for human rights activists is shrinking, with Moroccan authorities using laws to criminalise and discredit human rights activists, restrict their activities and curtail their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Amnesty has found that state actors have been using Pegasus as a tool to do this since 2017, but their recent research also found that mobile networks are subject to attack. It suspects NSO Group's software may be behind this.