Spyware from the Israeli company NSO was placed on the cellphone of the wife of journalist Jamal Khashoggi months before he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, the Washington Post reported. Khashoggi worked as a columnist for the Washington Post at the time of his murder.
According to the report, the Pegasus spyware was placed by a United Arab Emirates’ agency on Hanan Elatr’s phone while she was being interrogated by security officials at the Dubai Airport, at which time she turned over two cell phones, a laptop and her passwords. Elatr and Khashoggi were married in 2018 in a religious ceremony.
Bill Marczak, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, found in a new forensic analysis that the Pegasus software was installed on one of Elatr’s Android phones. The couple were engaged at the time of the installation of the spyware.
NSO has come under scrutiny following reports that its Pegasus spyware has been used by certain governments to spy on human rights activists, politicians and journalists. NSO says the software was sold to countries to allow their government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime.