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17 Jul 2022

Joseph Menn, The Washington Post

Thailand: More than 30 activist hacked by Pegasus; inc. co. comment

"Dozens of Thai activists and supporters hacked by NSO Group’s Pegasus", 17 July 2022

More than 30 Thai activists and supporters have been hacked with NSO Group’s potent Pegasus spyware, civil society groups said..., in the first countrywide campaign brought to light because Apple warned targeted iPhone users.

Apple issued warnings to suspected Pegasus victims in November, prompting some of the Thai recipients to contact civic organizations that then consulted iLaw, a local human rights group that has advocated for a new constitution drafted by elected representatives. The rights group then helped locate more victims.

It issued one of the new reports, identifying many of the hacking victims by name, including two of its own participants. Another report came from Toronto-based Citizen Lab, which analyzed digital traces left in the phones and named Pegasus ... Amnesty International used a different method to examine some of the phones and agreed with Citizen Lab’s conclusions.

The fresh reports show that many attacks came around the time the targets were involved in rallies against government policies. Though they do not assert that the Thai government was responsible, one or more Thai agencies would be more logical suspects than those of neighboring countries, Citizen Lab said.

NSO says it sells only to government agencies and gets Israel’s approval for its deals. The Thai government, which has wide latitude to spy on citizens under recent laws, previously denied hacking activists.

The company did not answer questions from The Post about its business in Thailand, instead offering a one-sentence statement: “Politically motivated organizations continue to make unverifiable claims against NSO hoping they will result in an outright ban on all cyber intelligence technologies, despite their well documented successes saving lives.”

Citizen Lab has not advocated for any such ban.

The Thai Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.