According to a new report, NSO’s Pegasus spyware has been used by governments to illegally obtain private photos from the phones of female journalists and activists. These images were then posted online in an effort to silence the women by tarnishing their reputations.
Pegasus spyware was exploited by some governments in an effort to silence female journalists
As reported by NBC News, several female journalists and activists have come out saying they were victims of the Pegasus spyware. Lebanese broadcast journalist Ghada Oueiss said her phone was hacked and private images of her in a hot tub were obtained and published on Twitter without her consent.
“I immediately knew that my phone had been hacked,” said Oueiss, who believes she was targeted in an effort to silence her critical reporting on the Saudi regime. “Those photos were not published anywhere. They were only on my phone.”
“I am used to being harassed online. But this was different,” she added. “It was as if someone had entered my home, my bedroom, my bathroom. I felt so unsafe and traumatized.”
An independent examination conducted by a forensic expert in the United States confirmed that NSO’s Pegasus spyware had been used on her phone. According to Oueiss, she was attacked in an effort to thwart her reporting on the Saudi regime. For days after Oueiss’ private images were published, her credibility as a journalist was attacked in countless tweets and direct messages.
While images of a woman in a bikini may not sound like breaking news to Western cultures, they are considered extremely scandalous in conservative societies. Images of this nature are considered shameful and can be used to attack and vilify women. Even if the images are in no way related to a women’s professional career, they can still be used as a tool for character association.
Oueiss has filed a lawsuit against MBS and his regime along with other defendants including the United Arab Emirates ruler Mohamed bin Zayed and two United States-based Twitter users who are responsible for circulating her images in the first place.