Amnesty to take Israel to court over 'illegal spying'

Amnesty to take Israel to court over 'illegal spying'
Amnesty has joined a petition to take Israel to court over selling spyware equipment that has been used to target journalists and activists.
3 min read
13 May, 2019
The petition will be filed on Tuesday [Getty]

Amnesty International is participating in action to take the Israeli ministry of defence to court over allegations that the country's spyware products, which they have been exported to various countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have targeted activists across the world.

The human rights watchdog will on Tuesday file a petition at the District Court of Tel Aviv, demanding that the ministry of defence revokes the export license of the NSO Group, an Israeli company that has been used to spy and attack human rights activists.

Approximately 30 members and supporters of Amnesty International Israel and other human rights activists set out to explain how Israel has put human rights at risk by allowing the exportation of NSO products, which has put lives of activists at risk and may have even enabled the killing of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have used Israeli spyware to track various Saudi activists, including Omar Abdulaziz, Yahya Assiri, Ghanem Al-Masarir; award-winning Emirati human rights campaigner Ahmed Mansoor, and murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Ongoing targetings

The New Arab is among several investigators, journalists and lawyers targeted by spies in an effort to discredit critical into research NSO.

Eyad Hamid, a journalist with The New Arab's Arabic service, was twice approached by an as-yet-unidentified agent to discuss his coverage of the UAE's use of NSO technology in the hacking of phones belonging to Qatar Emir Tamim al-Thani and Lebanon Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, among others.

Amnesty International had repeatedly condemned Israel and its client countries for spying on activists, but says the attack on Amnesty employees is the "final straw."

“NSO Group sells its products to governments who are known for outrageous human rights abuses, giving them the tools to track activists and critics. The attack on Amnesty International was the final straw,” said Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, who has provided supporting testimony.

“The Israeli MoD has ignored mounting evidence linking NSO Group to attacks on human rights defenders, which is why we are supporting this case. As long as products like Pegasus are marketed without proper control and oversight, the rights and safety of Amnesty International’s staff and that of other activists, journalists and dissidents around the world is at risk”, she added.

CIA's warnings

More recently, the CIA has warned at least three friends colleagues of Jamal Khashoggi that their continuing pro-democracy activism has singled out them and their families for potential retaliation from Saudi Arabia.

Iyad el-Baghdadi, a Palestinian refugee and activist who was granted asylum in Norway in 2015 after being deported from the UAE, was warned last month by Norwegian security officials that he was a Saudi target for his work, he said last week.

Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident and close associate of Khashoggi, and a person living in the US who requested not to be named have also been briefed in recent weeks that they face undisclosed Saudi threats as vocal critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The third person has chosen to remain anonymous.

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