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HRW says staff targeted with Israeli-made Pegasus spyware

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that one of its top staff members was targeted five times last year with Pegasus, a spyware produced by Israel's NSO Group.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that one of its top staff members was targeted five times last year with Pegasus, an Israeli company’s spyware.

The malware was used against Lama Fakih, director of HRW’s Beirut office in New York, who is also in charge of the group’s crisis response in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Israel, Myanmar, the occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, and the United States, HRW said on Wednesday.

Between April and August of 2021, Fakih’s phone was breached five times, but the organization stated that it had no idea who targeted her.

The NSO Group, which does not disclose its client list, has been embroiled in controversy in recent years following investigations by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, as well as several human rights organizations and media outlets, which discovered that governments around the world have used the technology to gain access to the smartphones of political opponents, activists, and journalists.

“Your mind is racing with a million notions. Why and how would I be targeted in this manner? Which government perpetrated this?” Fakih stated this in a Q&A published by Human Rights Watch on Wednesday.

“How does this affect my security, as well as the security of everyone whose data may have been compromised as a result of the attack?” According to her, HRW determined subsequently that her phone had been hacked via Pegasus. The conclusion was peer-reviewed and approved by Amnesty International’s Security and Human Rights Division.

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