In conjunction with the European Union’s condemnation of the “Pegasus” spyware scandal, through which an Israeli company cooperated with the Saudi government to spy on Saudi dissidents, Al-Jazeera anchor Ghada Owais revealed that she was a victim among the victims of these spyware programs.
In a tweet to her through her official Twitter account, which was monitored by (Watan), Ghada Owais said that she was a “victim of spyware”, revealing that private photos of her had been stolen from her mobile phone and used to discredit her through social media and the press.
I am a victim of spyware. My photos were stolen&used to smear me across social media and the press. No one should have to go through this. No journalist, activist, academic or citizen should feel unsafe just for owning a phone. We need to fight for the right to privacy#Ghada_Owais pic.twitter.com/18zc0DpU41
— Ghada Oueiss July 19, 2021
Denouncing this matter, Ghada Owais continued: “No one should go through this. No journalist, activist, academic or citizen should feel insecure just by owning a phone.”
Ghada Owais concluded her tweet by saying: “We need to fight for the right to privacy.”
Ghada Owais is suing Ibn Salman and Ibn Zayed
On December 10, 2020, Ghada Owais filed a lawsuit against “Bin Salman” in a US court in Florida.
Ghada Owais said in her lawsuit that she accuses the Saudi Crown Prince and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, of being behind the incident of hacking her phone, and publishing personal photos of her about six months ago.
Ghada Owais commented by saying that “Bin Salman” thought that the policy of debt buying and intimidation could succeed, but that was wrong, continuing by saying: “They believed that they could not be held accountable, and that they could continue their tyrannical vows.”
— Ghada Oueiss December 26, 2020
A few days later, Owais published pictures of the judicial summons against the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Muhammad bin Zayed, in the case she filed against them in an American court.
The Al Jazeera anchor said that she was targeted because she presented reports critical of Saudi Arabia, which is a very clear message to journalists across the Middle East.
She mentioned the lawsuits filed against bin Salman, especially by Khadija Genghis, the fiancée of the late Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, in addition to the lawsuit of the former Saudi intelligence officer Saad al-Jabri.
Saudi Arabia, UAE and Spyware
A joint investigation by the British newspaper The Guardian and other international media, based on leaked data and forensic analysis of phones, revealed new evidence that the Saudi and Emirati regimes used the Pegasus spyware sold by the Israeli company NOS to try to monitor Prime Time Zone close to journalist Jamal Khashoggi before and after his death.
And the Guardian explained in a report published on Sunday that the criminal investigation revealed that in one case, the phone of a person in Khashoggi’s inner circle was hacked four days after his murder.
Read also: Israeli surveillance companies worked for Saudi Arabia in direct coordination between Bin Salman and Netanyahu
The newspaper stated in a lengthy investigation that 45 countries around the world, including several Arab countries, use Israeli NOS technologies to suppress opponents.
The investigation points to an apparent attempt by Saudi Arabia and its close ally the UAE to take advantage of NSO’s spy technology after Khashoggi’s death to monitor his accomplices and investigate the murder, and they even tried to access the Istanbul prosecutor’s phone to monitor him.
The investigation revealed that those close to Khashoggi had been targeted through Israeli technology in the months leading up to the killing, on top of them being the phone of his wife, Hanan al-Attar, several months before his death, between November 2017 and April 2018.
A forensic analysis of El-Attar’s Android phone found that four text messages containing malicious links linked to the technology were sent. The analysis indicated that the targeting came from the UAE, an ally of Saudi Arabia. However, the scan did not confirm whether the device was successfully infected.
“Jamal warned me before that this might happen,” El-Eter said. “It makes me think they are aware of all things Jamal through me.” She added that she was concerned about the possibility of monitoring his conversations with fellow opponents on her phone. She said, “I kept my phone on the tea table [في منزلهم في فرجينيا] While Jamal was talking to a Saudi man twice a week.”
The Guardian noted that the mite number was also included in the numbers chosen by NSO clients as candidates for potential surveillance. Access to the leak was shared with the Guardian and other media by Forbidden Stories, as part of a collaborative investigation exposing Project Pegasus. The phones were scanned by Amnesty International’s Security Lab, a technology partner of Project Pegasus.
Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi
US intelligence agencies had already concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for ordering the killing of Khashoggi, a former confidant of the Saudi government whose criticism of the kingdom’s regime was seen in the pages of the Washington Post as a threat to bin Salman’s future. Salman.
The investigation revealed that the phone of Khadija Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, was subjected to a hacking attempt, when it was first infected with the Pegasus program only four days after his death, on October 6, 2018. Her phone was also hacked in two other days in October 2018. Other attempts to hack her phone continued in June 2019.
The investigation stated that all attempts were unsuccessful. Data analysis indicated that Saudi Arabia was behind its hacking. Cengiz said she was not surprised she was hacked: “I was thinking about this after the murder. But what can you do?”
The investigation also revealed that Khashoggi’s close friend Wadah Khanfar, the former general manager of the Al-Jazeera television network, was hacked using Pegasus, as analysis showed that his phone was infected recently during this July.
Phone analysis results and leaked phone records indicate that Saudi Arabia and its allies used NSO’s spyware in the aftermath of the murder to monitor the campaign for justice led by Khashoggi’s friends and associates. The intent to spy on official Turkish investigators also emerged.
Abdullah Khashoggi, Azzam Al-Tamimi and Madawi Al-Rasheed
Among Khashoggi’s associates who have been targeted for possible surveillance after his death, according to the leak, is Abdullah Khashoggi, the journalist’s son. and Azzam al-Tamimi, the activist and his British friend of Palestinian origin, and Dr. Madawi al-Rasheed, a London-based researcher who co-founded an opposition party of Saudis in the diaspora following the murder.
An analysis of Rashid’s phone found evidence of a hack attempt in April 2019, but there was no evidence that the spyware was successfully installed.
Yahya Asiri and Yassin Aktay
Among the names associated with Khashoggi are Yahya Assiri, a Saudi activist based in Britain known for documenting human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, who was in close contact with Khashoggi before his death, and Yassin Aktay, Khashoggi’s friend and aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The newspaper reported that it was not possible to conduct a forensic analysis on their phones. But it is more likely that they were subjected to a hack attempt.
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