The wife of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi who was assassinated by Saudi intelligence, is planning to sue the notorious Israeli spyware developed by the NSO Group.
Hanan Elatr, 52, also intends to sue Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for their alleged involvement in installing the Israeli company’s Pegasus software on her mobile phone, The Guardian reported yesterday.
Details of the attack on Khashoggi’s inner circle were uncovered following a ground-breaking investigation by the Pegasus Project, a collaboration of more than 80 journalists from 17 media organisations in ten countries.
Forensic analysis of phones by the investigating group uncovered new evidence last year that the Israeli firm’s spyware was used in an attempt to monitor people close to Khashoggi, both before and after his death.
The phone belonging to Khashoggi’s wife, Hanan Elatr, was on the list of 50,000 leaked numbers selected for possible surveillance by NSO clients.
“It is important to make everyone involved in this horrible crime accountable. My husband was a peaceful man. I believe in American justice,” Hanan told The Guardian.
Moreover, Hanan said she was determined to use the US courts to get full disclosure about who was potentially spying on her husband and those closest to him in the period before his murder.
Once hacked by NSO’s spyware, Pegasus, the targeted phone can be transformed into a surveillance device that can activate microphones and cameras without the user’s knowledge, as well as read all their messages, harvest their address book, monitor their movement and listen in on calls.
Hanan has spoken previously about being subjected to phone hacking. “Jamal warned me before, that this might happen,” Elatr is reported saying. “It makes me believe they are aware of everything that happened to Jamal, through me.” She added that she was concerned his conversations with fellow dissidents might have been monitored through her phone. “I kept my phone on the tea table [in their Virginia home], while Jamal was talking to a Saudi guy twice a week.”
Israel has been under global pressure to stop the export of spyware since last July, after a group of international rights and media organisations revealed that the Pegasus programme produced by NSO was used to hack the phones of journalists, prime ministers, officials and human rights activists in many countries.
NSO has also faced lawsuits and criticism from major technology companies which accuse it of putting their customers at risk of hacking; Apple was among the most prominent companies which launched a lawsuit.