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Pegasus Spyware Deployed Against El Salvador Journalists and Activists

According to forensic analysis conducted by Amnesty International and Citizen Lab, 35 journalists and activists in El Salvador were targets of the highly invasive Pegasus spyware. The malicious software was used to extract information from their cellphones as civil liberties saw a drastic decline in the country. Information regarding the attacks was released on Wednesday. The spyware was created by the Israeli firm NSO Group for government clients. However, the software has been used against human rights activists, journalists, dissidents, politicians, and public figures across the world. In this case, the spyware was used to hack video and voice recordings, photos, contact information, and phone conversations of independent journalists and editors in El Salvador from 2020 to 2021.

Citizen lab referred to the attacks as persistent, finding that the spyware infected 20 journalists from El Faro alone. El Faro is a local media publication that has exposed corruption scandals and truce negotiations between El Salvador’s government and imprisoned gang leaders. The groups targeted aim to defend privacy and freedom of expression. It is unclear who was responsible for the cellphone surveillance, however, the campaign is shrouded by government-led censorship and harassment targeting independent media in El Salvador. Authorities are still investigating the use of Pegasus in the country while a government spokesperson denied any involvement in the campaign.

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