At least 50 people close to the president of Mexico, including Andres Manuel Lpez Obrador, his wife, children and brothers, were among those who were tracked down by an Israeli-sponsored Pegasus spy program that was used to spy on hundreds of journalists, politicians, and human rights activists around the world.
The Mexican president’s wife, children and brothers were among those who followed Pegasus between 2016 and 2017, just before the elections that AMLO won.
Once installed a Skills, NSO Group’s Pegasus spy program can retrieve messages, photos, contacts and even listen to calls and remotely activate the mobile’s microphone and camera. The company that created it, the NSO Group, was founded in 2011 by former members of the Israeli military unit who specialize in cyber warfare.
In Israel, the program is considered a “weapon” and must be approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense to sell to other countries’ secret services.
According to Defender, One of the 16 press organizations involved in the investigation, data analysis shows that the highest number of phone numbers selected by the NSO client country is Mexico, more than 15,000.
The targets also include the phones of journalists, activists and human rights experts who investigated the disappearance of 43 Normalista students in Guerrero in 2014.
Complaint, published in Day, Defender, The world, Washington Post And other international media and news organizations, in 2017, a team of researchers from the University of Toronto’s Monk School of Global Affairs revealed that Citizen Lab was attacked by civilians in Mexico Software The NSO group, an Israeli spy agency, sells only to Pegasus governments.
The NSO was founded by three former members of the prestigious Division 8200 of the Israeli military, who specialize in cyber warfare. The company has about 200 employees, most of whom are also from electronic intelligence services.
Pegasus is their most popular product. Malicious software sneaks into a mobile phone and steals all its data, including email, documents or photos. Also, this Trojan phone can be operated remotely without detecting the microphone and cameras.
Pegasus can be installed on the phone by causing harm to commonly used applications or by tricking the user into clicking on the malicious link.
The Software According to news sources, the malicious phone could cost as much as $ 25,000. Many victims have sued the Israeli company.
Facebook and WhatsApp did just that, while Pegasus took advantage of a flaw in its messaging system.
The NSO group defended itself by claiming that the plan was being sold exclusively to government agencies to combat terrorism and criminal activity.
But according to a study by companies and the media, the list of 50,000 phones selected by NSO Group customers for surveillance includes at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians, more than 80 human rights activists and 65 business leaders. In the world, especially in India, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Togo, Hungary and Mexico.
In the Latin American country, the National Security Secretariat and the then Attorney General’s Office were clients of the NSO Group during the administration of former President Enrique Pena Nieto, he said. Defender.
The media federation that conducted the investigation will reveal the names of the personalities from the list in the coming days. Its journalists met with a few named individuals and recovered 67 phones, which were subjected to technical evaluations at Amnesty International Laboratory.
The press, governments, the European Union and human rights organizations on Monday expressed outrage at the global spying of activists, journalists and politicians through the Pegasus software from the Israeli company NSO Group.
UN Michael Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for better “control” of surveillance technologies.
Its monitoring ensures an urgent need to better regulate the sale, exchange and use of technologies, ”the report said.
Ursula van der Leyen, head of the European Commission, said the scandal “should be verified, but if so, it is completely unacceptable.”
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal confirmed that “these are very shocking events and if they are found to be true they are very serious.”
As a result of the investigation, revelations in various media outlets this Sunday, Amnesty International General Secretary Agnes Calmart said, “Such attacks are rare and nullify any NSO claim due to its fraud. Technology ”.
He added, “Even though the company says its software It is clear that espionage is used only in formal criminal and terrorist investigations, and that its technology helps to conduct systematic abuses. The NSO paints a picture of legitimacy while profiting from widespread human rights violations.
“Exports, sales, transfers and use of surveillance technology should be stopped immediately until this company and the industry as a whole prove capable of respecting human rights,” he said.
(With information Day, Defender, AFP y Reuters)