An Emirati government agency installed spyware manufactured by Israeli firm NSO Group on the phone of someone in Jamal Khashoggi’s close circle just months before the Saudi journalist was assassinated.
Elatr was seized upon landing at Dubai’s airport that month, and she was interrogated overnight after handing over two Android phones, a laptop, and her passwords, according to sources.
In June 2018, Elatr and Khashoggi married in an Islamic ceremony, according to Elatr.
Bill Marczak, a cybersecurity specialist at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, assisted the newspaper in its investigation. The Citizen Lab has been examining the usage of Pegasus and other spyware for years.
Marczak, who checked Elatr’s two Android phones at her and an international newspaper’s request, told the newspaper, “We found the smoking gun on her phone.”
On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and outspoken opponent of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was assassinated by a Saudi hit team at the country’s consulate in Istanbul.
The revelations are the latest evidence of governments throughout the world using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to hack the phones of notable journalists, human rights campaigners, and other dissidents.