Egypt’s presidential hopeful Ahmed Tantawi targeted by spyware: report
The mobile phone of Egyptian presidential hopeful and former MP Ahmed Tanawi was reportedly targeted by European spyware at a time an unconfirmed report indicated that the polls would be held earlier than expected.
In a report released this week, local independent Mada Masr news outlet cited the findings of the Toronto-based Citizen Lab as claiming that Tanatwi’s phone had been hacked several times in recent months via Predator, a European commercial spyware manufactured by Cytrox.
Mada Masr quoted Tantawi as saying that he had received repeated messages about his WhatsApp account being “hacked”, directing him to open particular links to fix the hacks.
After Tantawi asked The Citizen Lab to scan his devices, his iPhone appeared to have been targeted between May and September this year and was potentially hacked at other times.
A source close to Tantawi’ told The New Arab that several leading figures linked to the politician’s electoral campaign had also been targeted by the same spyware, allegedly used by the country’s national security agency to detect their activities.
Meanwhile, a recent report by the New York-based Bloomberg suggested that plans were considered to hold the presidential polls later this year instead of the first few months of 2024.
Egypt’s presidential elections have initially been scheduled to take place in 2024, with incumbent president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi widely expected to announce his intention for re-election soon.
“If the Bloomberg report proves to be accurate, such a move can be viewed as an attempt by the regime to allow no other candidates to put forward a solid electoral programme or garner support locally and internationally,” the source said.
“We all know that Sisi is very likely to win the coming poll, but at least we assume possible candidates can still try and give it a shot,” the source added.
After campaigns of harassment against opponents who might garner public support, Sisi won the 2018 election against one of his self-declared supporters Moussa Mustafa Moussa with 97 percent of the vote.
No official comments have been yet released either on Tantawy’s hack accusations or the Bloomberg report.
On Friday, the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) reported that at least 35 of Tantawi’s registered campaign volunteers had recently been detained by the country’s national security agency.
Though the arrests began three weeks ago, most of those detained were summoned to the national security agency’s headquarters across 13 different provinces on the night of September 12, according to the EIPR statement.
In 2019, Tantawi called on Sisi to leave office in 2022 and stand down before the next election, warning that if the Egyptian dictator did not, the country would be in “imminent danger” and unable to carry out the required social, political and economic reforms.