BEIRUT – The phones of a regional director of Human Rights Watch, who investigated the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and the explosion at the Port of Beirut, were hacked using spyware made by the Israeli firm NSO, the non-governmental organization announced on Wednesday.
Here’s what we know:
• The cellphones of Lama Fakih, who is stationed in Lebanon and oversees the US-based organization's interventions in many countries including Syria, Israel, Myanmar and Ethiopia were targeted with Pegasus spyware for the fifth time this year, HRW said.
• Fakih's work which includes exposing rights abuses in armed conflict, unrest and humanitarian disasters "may have come to the attention of various governments, some of which are alleged clients of NSO", the international organization added.
• At the time of the hacks, Fakih said her work included covering the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and investigating the devastating explosion in the port of Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020. She also said there was no way to know if there was a connection between the work she was doing and the piracy.
• NSO told Human Rights Watch that it had no knowledge of any of its clients using its technology against an HRW staff member, and that it would assess if an investigation was warranted.
• "NSO believes there should be an international regulatory structure in place to ensure the responsible use of cyber espionage tools," a spokesperson for the NSO Group told Reuters, “however, any call to suspend these life-saving technologies until such a structure exists is naive and would only benefit terrorists, pedophiles and hardened criminals who escape scrutiny," she added.
• Last year, the US Department of Commerce took action to make it more difficult for US companies to work with NSO, based on a finding that the company's software was being used to "maliciously target" people including officials, journalists, activists and businessmen.
• Last month, a group of US lawmakers called on the Treasury and State Departments to sanction NSO and three other foreign surveillance companies they say helped authoritarian governments commit human rights abuses.
• In November, Apple sued NSO, claiming it violated US laws by hacking into software installed on iPhones.
BEIRUT – The phones of a regional director of Human Rights Watch, who investigated the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and the explosion at the Port of Beirut, were hacked using spyware made by the Israeli firm NSO, the non-governmental organization announced on Wednesday.Here’s what we know: • The cellphones of Lama Fakih, who is stationed in Lebanon and oversees the US-based...