Report: Activists, journalists in El Salvador hacked with Pegasus

i24NEWS

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This studio photographic illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group featuring 'Pegasus' spyware, on display in Paris on July 21, 2021.
Joel Saget/AFPThis studio photographic illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group featuring 'Pegasus' spyware, on display in Paris on July 21, 2021.

'We confirmed 35 cases of journalists and members of civil society whose phones were infected with Pegasus'

Journalists and activists in El Salvador reportedly had their phones hacked with Israeli NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab announced in a report published Wednesday. 

"We confirmed 35 cases of journalists and members of civil society whose phones were successfully infected with NSO’s Pegasus spyware between July 2020 and November 2021," the report states. 

Researchers could not link the hacks to El Salvador's government, however, the report states that “the strong country-specific focus of the infections suggests that this is very likely.”

Sofía Medina, a spokeswoman for President Nayib Bukele, said in a statement that “El Salvador is no way associated with Pegasus and nor is a client of NSO Group," according to The Associated Press

She continued that the government is now investigating the use of Pegasus in El Salvador. 

Medina stated that on November 23 she received an alert from Apple saying she might be a victim of state-sponsored hacking. 

People familiar with NSO said to AP that it does not currently have an active system in El Salvador.

"We conclude that at least 35 individuals from media organizations El Faro, GatoEncerrado, La Prensa Gráfica, Revista Digital Disruptiva, Diario El Mundo, El Diario de Hoy, and two independent journalists were hacked with Pegasus. We also identified hacking against civil society organizations in El Salvador, including Fundación DTJ, Cristosal, and another NGO," concludes Citizen Lab's report. 

Apple sued NSO in November in an attempt to stop the spyware from compromising its operating systems.

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