A new report by Citizen Lab confirms the use of Pegasus in Bahrain against activists. Targets are mostly political and human right activists.
According to a recent investigation, the Bahraini authorities utilized the controversial Israeli spyware to sneak into the phones of dissidents. The utilization of Pegasus in Bahrain meant to put nine activists under intelligence control.
Manama’s targets include activists inside the country and abroad. Among others, two political activists in exile, who reside in London, were the target of Bahraini applicators of Pegasus.
Besides, multiple members of a democratic political group called the Waad are among the Bahraini targets of the spyware. Manama also utilized the NSO spyware to hack into the phones of three members of “Bahrain Centre for Human Rights.”
Reports also confirmed that a member of Al-Wefaq party, an opposition party in Bahrain, was also the target of the integrated attack. Al-Wefaq works in secrecy following an order by the local high court on the dissolution and liquidation of the party.
Citizen Lab revealed the administrative use of Pegasus in Bahrain in a most recent report. “From Pearl to Pegasus” also stressed that this is the first time a Bahraini attempt to hack into phone outside Europe is subject to revelations.
The London-bases journalist in exile, Moosa Mohammed, is one of the targets of Manama’s attempt to spy the activists. “When I fled torture and persecution in Bahrain, I thought I would find safety in London, but have continued to face surveillance and physical attacks by Persian Gulf regimes,” Mohammed reacted to the news.
Analysis of Mohammed’s iPhone 8 shows that the infection dates back to September 2020. He has been the target of another cyber-attack by the government back in 2011. The local officials used Finfisher, another hacking application, to hack his personal computer.
Pegasus in Bahrain
The Bahraini Institute of Rights and Democracy criticized the breach and said the new report exposed the terrifying extent of the administration’s monitoring campaign.
Alwadaei, the institute’s director lambasted the western government for their silence towards role of Pegasus in Bahrain crackdown. “The British and US governments, who have remained silent throughout the Pegasus scandal, must finally take a stand against their despotic allies’ abusive behavior.”
The western powers, including the British officials, refrained from commenting on the criticism.
An investigation by Forbidden Stories claimed to have received a list of targets including more than 50,000 numbers in July. The Parisian NGO revealed NSO clients’ intentions for the hack through Pegasus in a cooperative research with Amnesty international.
Forbidden Stories report named famous names from politicians to journalists and political dissidents as the targets across the world. The new revelations by Citizen lab was also possible after checking the activists’ numbers through a collaboration with Forbidden Stories.
Multiple governments across the world, mostly suppressive administration, utilized Pegasus against activists and political figures. The lists ranges from Saudi Arabia and UAE to Morocco, Hungary, India and Rwanda. The confirmation of use of Pegasus in Bahrain shows the list may still be subject to Prolongation.
The investigations revealed that A missed call or a WhatsApp text can send malware to the target cell phone. The spyware can secure entry to the gadgets phone’s contact list, images, texts, and call history. Cameras, location, and microphones are under control after the activation of Pegasus.
Of the notable targets of Pegasus are Emanuel Macron and Michel Aoun, French and Lebanese president and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Israeli officials rejected any role in the development of Pegasus claiming to have a thorough investigation underway. NSO group also failed to accept responsibility.