Khashoggi’s Wife To Sue NSO Group After Allegedly Being Targeted With Pegasus
She wants to retrieve two phones, an iPad and her husband's laptop that are seemingly with Turkish authorities.
Hanan Elatr, the wife of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is planning to sue the Israeli spyware company NSO Group for allegedly being targeted with the infamous Pegasus software, according to a report by The Guardian.
Elatr, who has applied for political asylum in the United States, also intends to sue the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for their involvement in the alleged attempts to install the spyware on her phone.
"It is important to make everyone involved in this horrible crime accountable. My husband was a peaceful man. I believe in American justice,” she said.
To this end, she reportedly wants to retrieve two mobile phones, an iPad, and a laptop belonging to her husband that are purportedly in the possession of authorities in Turkey, where Khashoggi was murdered.
Agnès Callamard, the former UN official who investigated the murder as special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings, is supporting Elatr in her efforts to gather evidence, according to the report.
Khashoggi was a US-based journalist, a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, and had written several articles criticising Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Washington Post.
On 2 October 2018, the 59-year-old was directed by Saudi Arabia's ambassador to go to the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul to receive some documents for his forthcoming marriage to Elatr. He was subsequently drugged, strangled, and dismembered by a group of operatives.
US intelligence concluded that the murder was approved by the prince, who denied the accusation and called it a "mistake" made by Saudi officials.
Pegasus Links Sent to Elatr’s Phone, Forensic Exam Shows
NSO Group's Pegasus spyware has the ability to transform a phone into a surveillance device, with microphones and cameras activated without a user knowing.
In 2021, a joint investigation by The Guardian and other organisations part of the Pegasus Project uncovered new evidence that an NSO Group client had indeed targeted Elatr between November 2017 and April 2018, months before her husband was dismembered and killed.
According to the publication, a peer-reviewed forensic examination of Elatr’s Android phone found that she was sent four texts containing malicious links connected to Pegasus.
These seem to have come from the UAE, an ally of Saudi Arabia. The examination, however, could not ascertain whether the phone had been successfully infected with Pegasus.
“Jamal warned me before that this might happen,” Elatr had told The Guardian last year. “It makes me believe they are aware of everything that happened to Jamal through me.”
Pegasus: A Background
In July 2021, a consortium of media organisations blew open the story that governments across the world were allegedly using Pegasus spyware to spy on citizens and persons of interest since 2019.
Pegasus was found to have infiltrated the phones of 1,400 individuals globally, including human rights activists, lawyers, and activists in India. Key members of Opposition were also reportedly targeted.
The central government denied the request for an investigation into the Pegasus scandal, however, in October 2021, the Supreme Court of India ordered an independent probe into the issue by a three-member committee.
The technical committee asked those affected to submit their phones for investigation, but only two persons – Delhi-based journalist J Gopikrishnan and and Jharkhand-based activist Rupesh Kumar – have come forward so far, according to The Times of India.
The committee, in a report to the Supreme Court, said it found no conclusive evidence on use of the spyware in examined phones, but noted that the Union government “has not cooperated” with the panel.
(With inputs from The Guardian.)
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