Phones of Palestinian NGO workers infected with Pegasus spyware, rights groups say
Phones belonging to six activists working for Palestinian NGOs were hacked with the controversial Pegasus spyware, according to human rights groups. The spyware is produced by Israeli technology firm NSO Group. The organization, Dublin-based rights group Front Line Defenders (FLD), claims that it investigated devices last month after it was contacted by a civil society group called Al Haq about a possible infection of a phone belonging to FLD staff. FLD then shared the results of its investigations with Amnesty International and Citizen Lab, who confirmed FLD’s findings.
The Palestinian NGOs include those designated as terrorist entities by Israel last month. This move drew sharp criticism from international donors who stated that the evidence to back up the designations was highly unconvincing. Last week, the US Commerce Department blacklisted NSO Group, accusing it of enabling governments to silence dissent. NSO Group stated in response that it could not confirm or deny the identity of government customers. The company maintains that its spyware helps law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world to protect national security despite drawing international criticism.