Seventeen journalists from seven countries who were identified as prospective or actual Pegasus spyware victims last month have filed charges against the NSO Group with prosecutors in Paris.
Their complaints join those made on July 20 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and two journalists with dual Moroccan-French nationality.
Furthermore, the RSF has filed a complaint with the United Nations. Last year, the organization placed NSO Group on its list of “digital predators.”
The malware Pegasus was created by the NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-arms company. It can be installed secretly on phones that run most versions of iOS and Android.
The 17 journalists – two each from Azerbaijan and Hungary, five each from India and Mexico, and one each from Morocco, Spain, and Togo – were among nearly 200 people named in a Pegasus Project investigation last month as potential targets or actual victims of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware surveillance.
The plaintiffs are aware of or have reasonable reasons to believe, that they have been spied on by their governments for doing independent reporting in the public interest.
For years, a number of the plaintiffs have been subjected to verbal assaults by their governments. Morocco’s Hicham Mansouri and India’s Swati Chaturvedi, who received the RSF Press Freedom Prize for Courage in 2018, are among them.
In the same year, the RSF took her case to the United Nations.
Foreign countries spied on some of them. They include Ignacio Cembrero of Spain, who was probably likely under monitoring by the Moroccan authorities.
“The complaints filed by these journalists, who are from every continent, confirm the scale of the surveillance carried out with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware,” RSF spokesperson Pauline Adès-Mével said.
“The investigation should identify all those involved, whether company executives or senior government officials in the countries concerned. In the face of a scandal so fraught with consequences for press freedom, no doubts must remain. The veil must be lifted completely and justice must be done.”
The RSF has submitted the cases of these 17 journalists to four UN special rapporteurs, requesting that they investigate the countries accused of using Pegasus to spy on journalists.