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Amnesty Says NSO Spyware Tech Used By Morocco To Spy On Journalist

Amnesty Says NSO Spyware Tech Used By Morocco To Spy On Journalist
Amnesty International said that in the case of spying of journalist Omar Radi, a critic of Morocco's human rights record, the Moroccan government has made use of technology developed by Israel's NSO Group.
A "sophisticated new technique" that silently installed NSO's Pegasus spyware was used on multiple occasions to infect Radi's phone, the organization has found.
"The attacks occurred over a period when Radi was being repeatedly harassed by the Moroccan authorities, with one attack taking place just days after NSO pledged to stop its products being used in human rights abuses and continued until at least January 2020," Amnesty said.
Danna Ingleton, deputy director of Amnesty Tech, said that it NSO is doe not prevent its technology from being used in such spying and hacking incidents, "then it should be banned from selling it to governments who are likely to use it for human rights abuses."
There were no comments available in the media over the issue from Radi, the Moroccan government spokesperson Said Amzazi and human rights minister Mustapha Ramid.
A human rights policy has been drawn up by the company to comply with United Nations guiding principles and any claim of misuse of its technology to violate human rights is taken very seriously, said an NSO spokesperson. "We responded directly to Amnesty International after learning of their allegations ... and we shall immediately review the information provided and initiate an investigation if warranted," the spokesperson said.
It is unable to disclose the identities of customers because of state confidentiality, NSO said.
NSO tools were also used last year to hack into devices of two Moroccan human rights activists, Amnesty said.
According to the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, which researches digital surveillance, NSO’s Pegasus has been linked to political surveillance in Mexico, the United Aran Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Such allegations have been denied by NSO.
In October last year, social media company Facebook’s Whatsapp found evidence that the NSO had made use of a flaw in the chat program of the social media platform to remotely take control of hundreds of smartphones. NSO was sued as a consequence by WhatsApp. 
A suspended four-month prison term was handed over to Radi in March this year over a tweet that he had posted in 2019 which severely criticized the trial of a group of activists.
According to human rights activities, courts in Morocco have, in recent months, sent a dozen individuals to prison for periods for up to four years over charges against such individuals which included insulting constitutional institutions or public servants and inciting violence,

Christopher J. Mitchell

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