Phones of Bahraini Citizens Found Hacked With Pegasus Spyware
The phones of three Bahraini citizens who have been critical of the Gulf state’s royal family were hacked with Pegasus spyware, created by the Israel-based company NSO Group. The findings were reported on Friday by Citizen Lab and the human rights group Red Line 4 Gulf, and released to reporters from the Project Pegasus consortium, including The Guardian, Le Monde and Haaretz.
The spyware reportedly was found on the cell phones of Mohammed al-Tajer, a Bahraini lawyer; Dr. Sharifa Siwar, an exiled psychiatrist who in the past accused the ruling royal family of corruption; and an unnamed journalist. An NSO spokesman denied the allegations, telling reporters that the “continued reporting of unsubstantiated allegations by uninformed sources is unfortunate and wrong.”
The phone numbers and the numbers of Bahraini lawmakers, officials, members of the royal family and religious figures considered close to the regime also were on a leaked database of potential spyware targets first reported by the consortium in July. The list also includes a local phone number that in the past was linked to US State Department officials active in Bahrain, Haaretz reported. Bahrain is a known client of NSO. Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week became the first Israeli prime minister to make an official visit to Bahrain.