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1 Aug 2021

Olivia Solon, NBC News (US)

Women journalists and activists allegedly targeted, harassed and intimidated by NSO Group’s govt agency clients; incl. comments from NSO

"I will not be silenced: Women targeted in hack-and-leak attacks speak out about spyware" 1 August 2021

[Ghada Oueiss, a Lebanese broadcast journalist at Al-Jazeera]...is one of several high-profile female journalists and activists who have allegedly been targeted and harassed by authoritarian regimes in the Middle East through hack-and-leak attacks using the Pegasus spyware, created by Israeli surveillance technology company NSO Group...

For Oueiss and several other women whose phones were allegedly targeted, a key part of the harassment and intimidation is the use of private photos...[which] are considered scandalous in conservative societies like Saudi Arabia and were seemingly used to publicly shame these women and smear their reputations...

NSO Group spokesperson Louis Rynsard told NBC News that “owing to contractual and national security considerations” the company “cannot confirm or deny the identity of our government customers.”

Rynsard added that although the company does not have sight of the targets selected for surveillance by its government clients, it carries out “vigorous pre-sale human rights and legal compliance checks” to minimize the potential for misuse.

“We take very seriously any allegation of misuse, including and especially the targeting of journalists, and do everything in our power to prevent that from happening,” Rynsard added, noting that if misuse is found, NSO Group can shut down that customer’s account to prevent further use of the spyware technology.

NSO Group has shut down multiple government accounts for misuse of Pegasus, Rynsard said.