- A friend of Jamal Khashoggi is suing Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO Group for allegedly providing software used to hack into his phone.
- Montreal-based dissident Omar Abdulaziz was targeted by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware software, which enables hackers to access messages, photos, microphone, and camera, researchers at Toronto’s Citizen Lab found in October.
- Both men were in communication during the period that Abdulaziz’s phone was allegedly hacked.
- Abdulaziz told CNN that the breach may have provided Saudi agents with sensitive information that contributed to Khashoggi’s murder.
- Two other lawsuits have been filed against the company and accuse it of participating in illegal spying.
A friend of Jamal Khashoggi is suing an Israeli company for allegedly providing software used to hack into his phone.
Montreal-based dissident Omar Abdulaziz was targeted by Israeli cyber intelligence firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware software, which enables hackers to access messages, photos, microphone, and camera, researchers at Toronto’s Citizen Lab found in October.
The 27-year-old previously told Business Insider he did not suspect his phone was being monitored until Citizen Lab reached out to corroborate its hypothesis.
“When they [Citizen Lab] reached out I figured that someone must have been listening to me and reading the conversations between me and my friends and my brothers,” he told Business Insider. “Some of them were arrested, and I’m sure hackers had access to everything on my phone.”
Abdulaziz and Khashoggi were in communication during the period of time that his phone was allegedly hacked, and he told CNN that the breach may have provided Saudi agents with sensitive information that contributed to Khashoggi’s murder.
“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” Abdulaziz told CNN. “The guilt is killing me.”
On Sunday, Abdulaziz filed a lawsuit in Tel Aviv against the Israeli company, alleging that it broke international law by selling software to the Saudi government used to spy on his conversations with Khashoggi.
“NSO should be held accountable in order to protect the lives of political dissidents, journalists and human rights activists,” Abdulaziz’s lawyer Alaa Mahajna told CNN.
Two other lawsuits, filed in Israel and Cyprus by citizens of Mexico and Qatar, accuse NSO Group of actively participating in illegal spying.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden also spoke firmly against the NSO Group, calling it “the worst of the worst,” a seller of tools “being actively used to violate the human rights of dissidents, opposition figures, activists, to some pretty bad players.” He also alleged that the group’s technology was used to help track and eventually kill Khashoggi.
NSO Group told CNN in a statement on Monday that the Abdulaziz suit was “completely unfounded” and “shows no evidence that the company’s technology was used” to target his device.
“The lawsuit appears to be based on a collection of press clippings that have been generated for the sole purpose of creating news headlines and do not reflect the reality of NSO’s work,” it said.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been accused of ordering the plot against Khashoggi. In messages sent between the two activists seen by CNN, Khashoggi likened the crown prince to a “beast Pac man” with an insatiable appetite for victims.