Two prominent Moroccan human rights activists have become targets of hackers. who tried to install advanced espionage software on their smartphones, reports Amnesty International on Thursday based on research. Multiple attempts to do so would have been successful at least once.
This is software from the Israeli company NSO. The espionage software is formally only intended for the fight against terrorism and organized crime. However, the software was also used earlier to spy on activists, journalists and lawyers.
According to Amnesty researcher Claudio Guarnieri, the two activists, lawyer Abdessadak El Bouchattaoui and scholar Maati Monjib, have become targets of the Pegasus spyware. He suspects that the Moroccan government is behind the hacking attempt. The two targets also suspect this, although there is no technical evidence for this.
The Pegasus spyware has been used against Moroccan activists since 2017 to spy on them. The men would have received text messages with a malicious link. If they had clicked on the link, the espionage software would be installed on their device.
According to Amnesty, at least one attempt to install the malware has been successful. In addition, Pegasus ended up on the Monjib iPhone. He is involved with a Moroccan organization that stands up for freedom of the press.
Morocco has not yet responded to the Amnesty report. NSO says to investigate the accusation.