Khashoggi widow Hanan Elater sues Israeli NSO Group over 'spyware phone hacking'

Khashoggi widow Hanan Elater sues Israeli NSO Group over 'spyware phone hacking'
Hanan Elatr, the wife of the late Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group has destroyed her life, leaving her in constant fear and isolation.
2 min read
16 June, 2023
Hanan Elatr Khashoggi said that NSO "intentionally targeted" her devices [Getty]

The widow of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has sued the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group over the use of surveillance software built by the company to spy on her messages in the months leading up to her husband's death.

In a civil suit filed Thursday in the Northern District of Virginia, Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, said that NSO "intentionally targeted" her devices and "caused her immense harm, both through the tragic loss of her husband and through her own loss of safety, privacy, and autonomy".

"She lives in a state of constant hyper-vigilance, unable to safely participate in social activities, constantly looking over her shoulder," the suit claimed.

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NSO - which markets surveillance technology to intelligence agencies and law enforcement around the world - has previously denied that its technology was used to hack Khashoggi.

He was a columnist of The Washington Post who was murdered on the grounds of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

NSO Group faces several other lawsuits over the use of its spyware against journalists, lawyers and political activists in other countries.

Facebook parent company Meta has sued NSO for allegedly hacking the WhatsApp app, which it also owns.

Apple also has sued NSO. In the WhatsApp case, NSO argued that it was immune from prosecution because it was acting on behalf of sovereign governments; the sale of its spyware must be approved by the Israeli defense ministry and is sold only to foreign governments.

But the court rejected that position and the US Supreme Court refused to take up NSO’s appeal.

The US government imposed restrictions on doing business with NSO over human rights concerns, and the company faces a barrage of legal action over its spy services, including from Apple Inc and WhatsApp owner Meta Platforms Inc.