6th October (WNN) — In a British court ruling issued on Wednesday, the Dubai leader used a powerful Israeli surveillance program to hack the phones of his estranged wife and her close aides.
The British High Court of Justice ruling found that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s agents “unlawfully supervised” his ex-wife, Princess Haya, his personal assistant, two of his lawyers and two members of his security team. NSO Group’s Pegasus was using spyware after she fled to London with her two children.
According to The Washington Post, Pegasus spyware allows operators to pick up a phone without requiring its owner to click a link and can send data including call logs, emails, GPS coordinates, text messages and recordings.
NSO officials have said Pegasus is specifically licensed to governments to track terrorists and criminals and could void the contract if investigations suggest the device’s surveillance powers are being abused. Is.
NSO Group said in a statement to The New York Times that it is committed to human rights and cooperates with the court’s investigation, although it does not recognize its jurisdiction.
“Whenever suspicion of abuse arises, NSO investigates, NSO alerts, NSO terminates,” the company said.
The ruling said Haya’s phone was hacked 11 times during the summer of 2020 on Sheikh Mohamed’s “express or implied” orders, as she was preparing for a custody hearing related to her long-term care for herself and her children.
Court documents also showed that more than 250 megabytes of data was “secretly extracted” from his phone, including potentially large amounts of photos, videos, audio records, text messages or emails.
According to the ruling, Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and adviser to the NSO, was informed of the hack and Haya’s lawyers were informed.
Sheikh Mohammed also attempted to purchase a 77-acre property that was so close to Haya’s London home that it would have been in “prime condition for direct or electronic surveillance”.
Haya’s legal team told the court that she has been “living in fear of her life, openly and fearing for the safety of her children” since leaving Dubai in April 2019.
“It’s like I’m being chased, that there’s literally nowhere for me to be safe,” she said.
Sheikh Mohamed denied the allegations, saying that the cases that caused surveillance concerns “presumed the conduct of state security” was an “incomplete picture” because it was based on evidence not disclosed to him or his advisers. had gone.
He also argued that it was not appropriate for him as the head of government to provide evidence as part of a private family proceeding in a foreign court, but Judge Andre MacFarlane held that the sheikh had presented the statements of witnesses. and ordered his legal team not to participate in the proceedings. .
MacFarlane wrote, “At no stage has the father shown any indication of concern for the mother who is caring for her children, on the grounds that her phone has been hacked and her security has been infiltrated ” “Instead he has marshalled a formidable forensic team to challenge the findings … and to fight the case against him at every point.”