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13 Dec 2021

Middle East Eye

Lawsuit filed against UAE-based company DarkMatter over alleged phone hack of Saudi human rights activist

See all tags Allegations

"Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul files lawsuit against UAE-based cyber firm" 9 December 2021

Saudi rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul filed a lawsuit in the US on Thursday against a UAE-based cyber security company and three of its former executives for allegedly hacking her phone before she was arrested.

...(EFF), a digital rights group which filed the complaint on Hathloul's behalf, said it was pursuing charges against DarkMatter, a cybersecurity company headquartered in Abu Dhabi, and three of its executives for allegedly hacking her phone to secretly track her communications and whereabouts.

EFF said Hathloul was among the victims of an illegal spying programme created in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings to identify and monitor activists, journalists, rival foreign leaders, and perceived political enemies.

In the lawsuit, Hathloul claims her phone was hacked to track her location and steal information as part of broader surveillance efforts targeted at dissidents within the UAE and its close ally, Saudi Arabia.

...[Hathloul] said the hacking of her phone led to her "arbitrary arrest by the UAE's security services and rendition to Saudi Arabia, where she was detained, imprisoned, and tortured"...

This is not the first time DarkMatter has been at the centre of a legal battle. Last December, Al Jazeera anchor Ghada Oueiss...filed a lawsuit against...Saudi Arabia and the UAE, accusing them of orchestrating an operation aiming to harm Oueiss's character and journalistic career.

The lawsuit outlined forensic evidence - obtained through a detailed look into Oueiss' phone - that claims DarkMatter hacked into her device.

DarkMatter did not respond to Middle East Eye's questions by time of publication.