Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, also known as HBJ, Qatar’s former prime minister, put remarks on Twitter about the current NSO cyber scandal, saying it “raises many questions,” according to Doha News.
“What is very unfortunate is that these espionage systems are being used by some countries, especially in our region, for purposes other than security that deviate from the mentioned and violate the privacy of the people,” HBJ wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
The former official also stated that he had been aware of monitoring on his own device for years, though he did not say if it was done with Pegasus malware.
“I have known for years that my phone was being monitored by those who are snooping, but I did not care in light of the sad situation the region is in,” he said.
“We know that the citizen in our region, when he falls victim to spying devices and those who operate them, whether from inside or outside the country, cannot complain and protect his rights in the absence of legal responsibility and an impartial judiciary,” HBJ also said.
The remarks come after Amnesty International, The Guardian, and Forbidden Stories disclosed last week that Pegasus spyware was used to target 180 journalists from 20 countries between 2016 and 2021, including many from the Arab world. The data leaks include a list of over 50,000 phone numbers that are thought to have been identified as those of people of interest by NSO clients since 2016.
Phone numbers belonging to Nasser al-Khelaifi, the Qatari president of football club Paris Saint-Germain and CEO of beIN Sports, were among those possibly targeted by the Pegasus spyware.