According to a worldwide media consortium investigation based on stolen targeting data, military-grade software from Israel-based NSO Group, the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire organization, is being used to spy on journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents.
Journalists were able to identify more than 1,000 persons in 50 countries from a list of more than 50,000 mobile numbers obtained by the Paris-based media NGO Forbidden Stories and the human rights organisation Amnesty International and shared with 16 news organisations.
According to The Washington Post, a consortium member, they include 189 journalists, more than 600 lawmakers and government officials, at least 65 corporate leaders, 85 human rights advocates, and numerous heads of state. The Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, and The Financial Times are among the organisations represented by the journalists.
Amnesty International also reported that its forensic researchers had determined that NSO Group’s flagship Pegasus spyware had been successfully installed on the phone of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, just four days after he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The business has already been linked to different forms of espionage on Khashoggi.