The leaked database at the heart of the Pegasus project includes the mobile phone numbers of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and 13 other heads of state and heads of government, the Guardian can reveal. The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, are also listed in the data, which includes diplomats, military chiefs and senior politicians from 34 countries.
The appearance of a number on the leaked list – which includes numbers selected by governments that are clients of NSO Group, the Israeli spyware firm – does not mean it was subject to an attempted or successful hack. NSO insists the database has “no relevance” to the company.
... Political figures whose numbers appear in the list include:
The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who appears to have been selected by Rwanda in 2019.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, who appears to have been selected as a person of interest by Morocco in 2019. An Élysée official said: “If this is proven, it is clearly very serious. All light will be shed on these media revelations.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director general, who also appears to have been of interest to Morocco in 2019.
Saad Hariri, who resigned as prime minister of Lebanon last week and appears to have been selected by the UAE in 2018 and 2019.
Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, who appears to have been chosen as a person of interest by Morocco in 2019, when he was prime minister of Belgium.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco, who was selected as a person of interest in 2019, apparently by security forces in his own country.
Saadeddine Othmani, Morocco’s prime minister, who was also selected as a person of interest in 2018 and 2019, again possibly by elements within his own country.
Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, who was selected as a person of interest by India in 2019.
Felipe Calderón of Mexico, the former president. His number was selected in 2016 and 2017 by what is believed to have been a Mexican client during a period when his wife, Margarita Zavala was running for the country’s top political job.
Robert Malley, a longtime American diplomat who was chief negotiator on the US-Iran deal, and who appears to have been selected as a person of interest by Morocco in 2019. NSO has said its government clients are prevented from deploying its software against US numbers because it has been made “technically impossible”.
Pegasus became the center of controversy after an international media consortium reported it was used in attempts to hack smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives, and officials in some 50 countries.
Washington Post editorial acknowledges importance of US decision to blacklist NSO Group, calls for tackling the rest of the sprawling and shadowy spyware industry that threatens civil society around the globe.
CSOs & experts request U.N. Human Rights Council to urgently denounce & mandate independent investigations into situation of human rights violations facilitated by sale, export, transfer, & use of surveillance technology
Five organisations call upon the European Commission and EU member states to follow up on their promise of creating a transparent market in cyber-surveillance technologies bound by effective human rights safeguards.
Civil society groups say the Pegasus revelations should be a wake-up call for the urgent need to protect the right to privacy. The groups say the government should carry out surveillance reform that ensures independent judicial oversight, and provides for judicial remedy, as well as a data protection framework that respects rights.
Bahraini human rights activists, including an activist from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, were hacked with NSO's Pegasus spyware. The zero-click attack defeated new security protections that Apple designed to withstand covert compromises, say researchers at Citizen Lab.
David Haigh and Tiina Jauhiainen, two associates of the emir of Dubai’s daughter, have joined a group of potential claimants considering legal action in the wake of the Pegasus scandal after their phones were allegedly targeted with NSO spyware.
WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption, meaning messages shared via the platform are, under normal circumstances, highly secure—a feature that has made it attractive for journalists, human rights defenders, and other vulnerable users, particularly in repressive environments. In an interview with CPJ Will Cathcart, the chief executive of WhatsApp, says spyware subverting end-to-end encryption is a threat to democracy and expresses concerns about attacks on human rights defenders.
The Committee to Protect Journalists spoke to David Kaye, former Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion & expression, about the Pegasus Project and why surveillance reform should reach beyond NSO Group and Israel.
Human Rights Watch reports that NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware has been used for surveillance of dozens of journalists, human rights activists, and others demonstrate the urgent need for governments to suspend the trade in surveillance technology until rights-protecting regulatory frameworks are in place. Human Rights Watch says governments should immediately cease their own use of surveillance technologies in ways that violate human rights.
Amnesty International Australia has written to Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews, reiterating that the surveillance industry must no longer be afforded a laissez-faire approach from governments with a vested interest in using this technology to commit human rights violations.
In this joint open letter, 146 civil society organizations and 28 independent experts worldwide call on states to implement an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology. The signatories highlight the key human rights implications of the Pegasus project's exposé and issue a series of recommendations to states, as well as to states that export surveillance technology.
The London-headquartered private equity firm is to be wound up following a months-long dispute between its three principals and controversy over its ownership of the surveillance technology provider NSO Group
This briefing highlights key insights into the human rights risks from digital surveillance technology, such as the improper breadth of targeting under international human rights law; the tool’s clandestine nature; the severe resulting human rights violations; states and companies’ impunity; and states’ failure to protect their residents from illegal hacking and surveillance.
A Moroccan court has sentenced journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi to six years in jail on charges of espionage and rape, offences which he has denied. Days before the trial began in June 2020, an Amnesty International investigation suggested the Moroccan authorities had planted Israel-made Pegasus spyware on Radi's cellphone.