AEJ calls for ban on Pegasus spyware

Photo from Forbidden Stories

The AEJ has published an open letter to the European Commission calling for an immediate EU-wide ban on the import and misuse of Pegasus spyware.

Quoting a headline in the respected Israeli daily Haaretz – “Israel’s NSO and Pegasus Are a Clear and Present Danger to Democracy Around the World” – the AEJ also calls for a thorough official investigation of EU member states’ use of this and other forms of electronic spying and an effective ban on SLAPPs – strategic lawsuits against public participation that have been used to intimidate and silence criticism through expensive and baseless legal proceedings.

AEJ media freedom representative and UK chairman William Horsley writes that the Pegasus revelations are “shocking evidence of the widespread misuse of spyware and malware against journalists and others….[and] … also demonstrates the massive power of the ‘criminal services industry’ that serves corrupt forces including undemocratic governments worldwide”.

Revelations on July 18 2021 about the use of Pegasus software used to spy on journalists and political opponents sparked a worldwide row.
They showed human rights activists, journalists and lawyers across the world have been targeted by authoritarian governments using hacking software sold by a private Israeli surveillance company – NSO Group.

17 media organizations combined in the investigation including The Guardian, Radio France, Le Monde, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Westdeutscher and Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Le Soir, The Washington Post, PBS Frontline, Haaretz and The Wire with information from Paris-based non profit media organization Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International.

The investigation revealed a data leak of 50,000 phone numbers selected for surveillance by Pegasus, malware that infects iPhones and Android devices to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls, and secretly activate microphones.

Phone numbers of more than 180 journalists were listed including reporters, editors and executives at the Financial Times, CNN, the New York Times, France 24, the Economist, Associated Press and Reuters.

Surveillance company NSO, closely regulated by the Israeli ministry of defence, says it sells the software only to vetted government customers – military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies in 40 countries – for anti-terrorism and crime purposes.

AEJ open letter  
AEJ on misuse by governments and criminals
Pegasus revelations
BBC Radio 4 Media Show on Pegasus
Forbidden Stories
Amnesty on Pegasus
Israel launches investigation
New York Times
PBS on Pegasus
Pegasus Wikipedia
SLAPP laws