During the custody fight over their children, Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ordered the phones of his ex-wife and her lawyers to be hacked as part of a “sustained campaign of intimidation and threat,” according to the High Court of England, on Wednesday.
According to the verdict, Al Maktoum hacked the phones of Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and some of her close associates using the sophisticated Pegasus software designed by the Israeli NSO Group for states to fight against national security issues.
Those working for him also tried to buy a mansion next door to Haya’s near the British capital, which the court ruled was an act of intimidation that left her feeling hunted, unsafe, and as if she could not breathe anymore.
The new verdict comes 19 months after the court found Al Maktoum had kidnapped, tortured, and kept two of his daughters against their will.
Since she moved to the UK with their two children, Jalila and Zayed, Al Maktoum and Haya have been embroiled in a lengthy, acrimonious, and expensive custody fight. She claimed she was concerned for her safety since one of her British bodyguards was suspected of having an affair with her.
Haya’s lawyer Fiona Shackleton, a member of the UK House of Lords who represented British heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles in his divorce from his late first wife Princess Diana, was among those targeted by the hacking.
The NSO Group terminated its contract with the UAE when the hack was discovered, according to Haya’s lawyers. The Israeli business said it could not comment on the matter right now, but that it would take action if it got evidence of Pegasus abuse.