PEGASUS: THE NEW GLOBAL WEAPON FOR SILENCING JOURNALISTS
For nearly three years, Khadija Ismayilova’s phone was regularly infected with Pegasus, a highly-sophisticated spyware tool developed by Israeli company NSO Group that gives clients access to the entirety of a phone’s contents and can even remotely access the camera and microphone, according to a forensic analysis by Amnesty International’s Security Lab, in partnership with Forbidden Stories.
“All night I’ve been thinking about what did I do with my phone,” she told journalists from her temporary home in Ankara the day after learning her phone had been compromised. “I feel guilty for the messages I’ve sent. I feel guilty for the sources who sent me [information] thinking that some encrypted messaging ways are secure and they didn’t know that my phone is infected.”
“My family members are also victimized,” she added. “The sources are victimized, people I’ve been working with, people who told me their private secrets are victimized.”
Reporters identified more than 1,000 people in more than 50 countries whose numbers were included on the list. Victims included Arab royal family members, at least 65 business executives, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, and more than 600 politicians and government officials—including cabinet ministers, diplomats, and military and security officers. The numbers of several heads of state and prime ministers also appeared on the list. The Guardian, meanwhile, said 15,000 politicians, journalists, judges, activists, and teachers in Mexico appear on the leaked list.
As detailed here, hundreds of journalists, activists, academics, lawyers, and even world leaders appear to have been targeted. Journalists on the list worked for leading news organizations, including CNN, the Associated Press, Voice of America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, Le Monde in France, the Financial Times in London, and Al Jazeera in Qatar.